Saturday, February 1, 2014

Jersey's appalling human rights record again...but who cares?

We tried to post this on the SSTAG - Social Security and Tenants Action Group - blog but Google seems to have played around yet again with the password.
If anybody knows how to communicate with Google or how to rectify the problem please make contact....

So we are looking at the European Social Charter of the Council of Europe which almost every other place in Europe has signed up to....
but not Jersey of course....
and we doubt if any of the current COM have ever heard of it or care to find out.....

Council of Europe Social Charter….

A recent Daily Mail headline predictably screamed against the Council of Europe
“Double your dole, Eurocrats tell UK”.

For the average reader it would have been just another poke at the EU – but in fact the Council of Europe is not the EU at all but another organisation entirely.

Not that this would bother the Daily Mail too much with its insular view of the world and its policy to oppose any progressive trends – especially those that seek to improve the lives of ordinary working people…

So this latest rant was aimed to ridicule the most recent report from the Council of Europe arising under the European Social Charter which was signed up to by the UK in 1962.

The Charter is the companion document to the European Convention on Human Rights so that alone is reason for the Daily Mail to reach for the reject button.
Unfortunately, the paper is popular in Jersey so many thousands of the local electorate devour its contents and absorb its prejudices along with those so readily published by the JEP.

It was the Anti-Torture Committee from the Council of Europe that visited La Moye Prison a few years ago and issued a report that required Jersey to improve some conditions and practices which potentially caused “human rights violations.”

It’s easy to guess what the Daily Mail might have written about that sort of interference because the violation of rights is just an everyday journalistic tool at the Mail and other “National rags” – as the Press Inquiry and current court cases have revealed…

But unlike the Convention against Torture - Jersey has not even signed up for the European Social Charter – so the latest criticisms against the UK do not apply here.

This does not mean that similar conclusions might not be made about Jersey’s social policies – it’s just that, yet again - nobody is submitting them for independent examination and scrutiny in accordance with international standards.

Of course, there is no “dole” in Jersey just a weird system of “Income support” – but so far as the UK is concerned the Council report said that “Jobseekers Allowance” (for example) should be increased by £71 per week and many other allowances and pensions should be increased by similar amounts too because they are “manifestly inadequate.”

So how would Jersey fare if examined by these “Eurocrats”?

The UK has signed-up for 60 of the 72 articles of the Social Charter and submitted 32 Reports to the relevant Council of Europe Committee since 1962.

These deal with such matters as;

Children and family protection,
The protection of children from sexual exploitation,
Employment and labour rights,
Trades Unions,
Education, training and equal opportunities,
Health and Social Security provision
Migrant workers,

The whole document is hugely important but like the Convention on Human Rights, is not popular with the current UK Government or other regressive institutions such as the Daily Mail. They would like to scrap any legislation or obligations that interfere with the capitalist priority of making profit.

In Jersey, as already indicated, the European Social Charter has not even been ratified.
It is unlikely that CM Gorst has ever heard of its existence and the Jersey Scrutiny system is incapable of submitting social policies to critical examination.

The Jersey Scrutiny System simply does not have an international obligations dimension – nobody routinely asks if human rights are being complied with!

How might such a complacent attitude be challenged?  Shall any of the candidates in the current St Helier By-Elections or in the whole Island elections in the autumn be proposing to change things for the better?

1 comment:

  1. As Jersey isn't a sovereign state, but a mere Dependency, at what point should we be looking for a signature or ratification?

    Have Guernsey or the Isle of Man signed and/or ratified?