René Cassin stands with NGOs for the Human Rights Act on International Human Rights Day
René Cassin was one of 43 organisations to call on political party leaders to protect the Human Rights Act on International Human Rights Day. Under the auspices of the BIHR, a letter was prepared which voiced our collective disappointment that the Human Rights Act is often denigrated in our society. The purpose of the letter was to remind our leaders of the importance of the Human Rights Act and to call upon them to show leadership with respect to efforts to retain and build upon the Human Rights Act.
Slavery Footprint – how do you score?
On Monday, 28th November, I commenced my internship at René Cassin. Far from a typical office-based internship, I found myself immediately thrown into the action.
I joined the René Cassin team to attend a discussion with Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large and Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the United States Department of State. CdeBaca talked about the collaborative work that the UK and the US are doing to decrease and ultimately prevent slavery and human trafficking.
While at the talk, I learned about a new interactive survey that René Cassin has been encouraging its supporters to take called Slavery Footprint. This online survey allows the user to discover how their consumer habits are contributing to the slave trade all over the world. I was told the result would shock me, but even with that in mind I was amazed at my own score, perhaps mostly because as a passionate human rights advocate I scored considerably higher than the average.
The site itself is incredibly well done, it’s appealing, colourful and most importantly informative without being boring, overwhelming or judgmental – a considerable feat I reckon! When you first enter you are given the option of some background reading which I highly recommend before beginning the survey. For those who cannot fathom the concept of modern day slavery, this is the perfect introduction. It introduces the concept in a lively manner, with multi-coloured passages moving all around you as you scroll down the page.
The survey itself consists of 11 questions, each targeting a facet of consumption in everyday western life. Each question and response presents a new form of interaction. On the left-hand side a tab allows you to fine tune your response so that your footprint can be as accurate as possible. If you do choose to fine tune, the survey can become a little tedious, especially when working from a slow internet connection, nonetheless it’s worthwhile.
The most fascinating part though is definitely the result. My consumer footprint involved the use of 38 slaves, an amount drastically higher than the average for someone in my position, which while at first was discouraging, I now know is something I can very easily work on. The website provides a library of information on how you can take action to reduce your own slavery footprint and end this human rights abuse.
See how you score at: www.slaveryfootprint.org
To join René Cassin's campaign to end slavery and human trafficking please email email@example.com or click here.
Help us to stop an unjust deportation
Dale Farm: a community without a home
At René Cassin, we are deeply disappointed with the forced eviction that took place today at Dale Farm. We believe that the actions taken and indeed the injustice embedded in the planning process amount to a violation of the rights enshrined in both domestic and international human rights law.
The repeated denial of planning permission to a community living on land that was legally purchased and formerly a scrap yard, raises deep questions about our society and how we treat the chronically excluded.
It is easy to defend Basildon Council's position by saying that the land was designated as Greenbelt land. However, the law is a means to an end, and that end ought to be the attainment of justice. When a community that has long had its roots in a place, and has purchased land under the impression they can develop it, is forcibly evicted, where is the justice? What is just about an entire generation of children from this community now being pushed onto the road where they will not be able to receive an adequate and uninterrupted education? What is just about rendering elderly people who rely on electricity for life saving machinery homeless?
When the homes are torn down and the site cleared, and the media disappear, there will be another story. It will be a story of families desperately trying to find places to stop temporarily. As we know, all the detailed research demonstrates that there simply are not enough lawful pitches in this country to accommodate the Gypsy and Traveller population. So where will they go?
As the Jewish voice for human rights, René Cassin sees many historical parallels in what has happened to the Dale Farm community today and the experience of other marginalised groups who are denied security of tenure and the basic protections that the majority of us take for granted. To learn more about the Jewish historical experience, and the significance of the timing of the Dale Farm eviction, please click here.
René Cassin director, Simone Abel, pointed to the irony of the Dale Farm situation: 'We are seeing a community whom we have long been told are itinerant and do not wish to 'settle down' being forcibly evicted from land that they have long lived on and been settled on. The fact that this is happening on our doorstep and that there has been insufficient genuine consultation to satisfy international human rights standards is deeply disappointing'. Abel cited the experience of Indigenous Australians in her home country and the famous Mabo case, which overturned the fictitious doctrine of terra nullius, stating, 'one day we will have a Mabo here. May this be the last eviction'.
If you would like to assist in René Cassin's campaign to promote and protect the rights of Gypsies and Travellers, please register your interest by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Image of Gypsy and Traveller children taken by photographer Chris Porsz
René Cassin article in Open Democracy
To read our latest article on the Open Democracy site, please go to http://www.opendemocracy.net/keith-kahn-harris-simone-abel-shauna-leven/jews-gypsies-and-travellers-particular-empathy or click here.
Although today has been a disappointing day for our Gypsy and Traveller rights campaign, we are slowly starting to build momentum and will continue to work tirelessly in coalition with other NGOs to ensure that subsequent evictions on other sites do not occur.