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Articles from the Peace News log: Human rights

Articles from the Peace News log.
For articles in this category from the whole site, look here

On January 1, 1804 Haiti became an independent nation free from colonial slavery but this important history is often missing from the prevalent narrative that blames Haiti for its current plight.

Having broken free of the shackles of French colonial slavery, 210 years ago today Haiti become an independent country and in doing so became the first, and only, country to be born out of a successful slave revolt.

Despite its huge historically significance, the scope of the human ideals upon which Haiti gained its independence from a brutal colonial ruler is often lost in the modern narrative about the country.

In gaining its independence Haiti superseded the French and American revolutions that came before it as it became “the first and most dramatic emergence of the ideal of human rights - beyond race, nation or gender - in the modern world.” Whilst the French Revolution was about social justice and the American Revolution sought to end colonial rule, “Neither seriously considered putting an end to human slavery.” In this sense, Haiti was “the first country to articulate a general principle of common, unqualified equality for all its citizens”. Haiti’s abolition of slavery came some fifty-nine years before the Emancipation Proclamation came into effect in the United States and that even dedicate humanitarians of the time, by comparison, “failed to recognize the full equality of all persons” as the Haitians had.

The scope of the Haitian revolution was such that has been described as “the most thorough case study of revolutionary change anywhere in the history of the modern world” and that it represents “one of the truly noteworthy achievements in the annals of world history”.

Despite these achievements their historical significance is largely unknown.

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Following a brutal arrest and an IPCC complaint being upheld, Mani Hamid is seeking a movement to support victims of miscarriages of justice.

ImageThe Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) have upheld Mani Hamid's complaint – “the police had wrongfully arrested him, assaulted him and violated his human right to protest.” (please see back history below (1)). He is currently pursuing prosecution of the police for misconduct and solicitors for negligence. Mani is teaching himself about Human Rights law and is determined to take these cases up to the International Human Rights courts.

Any Peace News reader with any knowledge of human rights law, solicitors' negligence or police misconduct please contact Mani on the email provided at the end of this article.

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Although widely unknown and uncelebrated Haiti's history actually “played an inordinately important role in the articulation of a version of human rights” that promotes universality.

Whilst today is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation it is also the anniversary of another historic event, although one that is little known by comparison, that actually saw the end to slavery, Haitian independence.

It is widely accepted that the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation did not in of itself actually bring about the end to slavery in the US, so not only did the Haitian revolution put an end to slavery some 59 years in advance of even this comparatively limited event, but it also did so on the basis of human ideals that superseded even those of the French revolution; Haiti's revolution had at its heart the notion of universality.

On 1 January, 1804 Haitians officially declared their independence from their French colonial masters that had so brutally enslaved them and in doing so Haiti became the first nation to be born from a successful slave revolt.

To this day, Haiti is the only country in history to have done so, making it a truly unique nation.

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Review of Human Rights Watch's report 'Unacknowledged Deaths: Civilian Casualties in NATO’s Air Campaign in Libya', published May 14, 2012.

ImageHuman Rights Watch published its findings today on civilian casualties resulting from NATO's air strikes against Libya in 2011 in a report entitled 'Unacknowledged Deaths: Civilian Casualties in NATO’s Air Campaign in Libya', concluding that at least seventy-two civilians were killed as a result of the strikes, of which a third were children.

The seventy-six page report is based on extensive field investigations conducted by Human Rights Watch between August 2011 and April 2012 and follows a report published by Amnesty International in March entitled 'Libya: The forgotten victims of NATO strikes' which also documented civilian casualties stemming from NATO airstrikes. Human Rights Watch investigated eight NATO air strikes that hit residential homes and resulted in the seventy-two deaths, of which twenty-four were children and twenty were women. In addition to these tragic losses, dozens of other civilians were also wounded in these attacks. 

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Maya Evans reviews the latest play from the Tricycle Theatre

"The morning after seeing Tactical Questioning – scenes from the Baha Mousa Inquiry, I woke up in a cold sweat. Harrowing images of people being tortured were still in my head.

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Maya Evans reflects on courts, money and human rights

The Judge Lord Justice Laws looked over his glasses, he was a no messing kind of guy with a habit of cutting to the chase immediately. “So this £50- £100 k figure, where did it come from? Is it the governments?”

The defence Lawyer for the Secretary of State Mr Grodzinski flicked through his papers to find the source. Indeed it was the government’s calculated annual expense for judicial reviews- cost was the main justification which the Ministry of Justice had used to cut legal aid for judicial review cases.

Justice Laws looked truly astounded, he had obviously followed the same path of logic we had: “But it’s peanuts!” he bluntly stated.

I had to put my head down as I struggled to keep a straight face and Grodzinski struggled for words, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

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PFC Bradley Manning has been in a maximum-security prison in Virginia, USA for the past eight months after being accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. This information includes the “Collateral Murder” video, which depicts a 2007 US helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 12 people. Manning has been in solitary confinement and under constant surveillance although he has not yet been tried or convicted of his crimes.

Manning is being held in the Quantico Confinement Facility under inhumane conditions. He spends every day in a 12’ x 6’ cell and he is only allowed out for one hour a day, which he spends exercising by walking around another room. He has no sheets, no pillows, and no personal items in his cell, and he has very little contact with the outside world. In December, Manning spent his 23rd birthday alone due to the harsh terms of his visiting hours.

These conditions have contributed to a decline in Manning’s physical and mental health. Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, has said that Manning’s living conditions are abusive, and the UN has begun investigating Manning’s treatment on the grounds that it may amount to torture.

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