A well-known campaigner has said that Britain should become a “champion of human rights” at home and abroad.
David Mepham, UK director of Human Rights Watch, was recently asked to pen an entry in The Independent’s “If I were Prime Minister…” series.
Mr Mepham, who previously worked as a policy advisor for the Department for International Development, said that civil liberties would be his number one priority if he was given the levers of power.
“The prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment, the right to free speech and peaceful protest, equality before the law, the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial – these are not alien to British values and constitutional traditions. They go to the heart of what it means to call Britain a free society.”
To this end Mr Mepham said that the Human Rights Act should be strengthened instead of scrapped and also warned against withdrawing from the European Court of Human Rights.
“The suggestion that Britain should ignore rulings from the court that it doesn’t like would gravely damage the institution and set a dreadful precedent for abusive governments elsewhere in Europe, for example in Russia and Turkey,” he added.
The “If I were Prime Minister series…” is being run by the newspaper in the 100 days leading up to this year’s General Election. Other contributors so far have included Frances Cook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, and Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK.