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Rightsinfo: Play Your Part In Awakening The British Public

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About The Author

Chris Bridges (Executive Editor)

Chris is an IT and Data Protection solicitor at a top 20 full service firm and the founder of Keep Calm Talk Law. He also contributes to Computers and Law and other sector specific publications.

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Human Rights in the UK are misunderstood. Those of our readers on Twitter will likely be familiar with @AdamWagner1’s ongoing concern regarding the way in which the media report on Human Rights. He believes there to be three fundamental flaws in the UK, namely:

  1. Inaccessibility;
  2. Imbalance; and
  3. Inaccuracy.

Whilst Twitter is known for attracting people full of hot air, eager to criticise but tentative about taking any positive action, Adam Wagner is not one of those people. He has decided to tackle these issues head on with his latest project, Rightsinfo.

Rightsinfo intends to use social media to change the way we communicate about Human Rights, provide clear and reliable Human Rights information that can be easily shared, and to use infographs and stories to bring Human Rights to life.

Inaccessibility

Human Rights judgments are rarely, if ever, contained to a few pages of A4. They are lengthy, and near impossible for anyone that is not legally minded to properly comprehend. Whilst this allows plenty of opportunity for lawyers to cut their teeth, it does not help the layperson understand the true essence of judgments.

Further, The Human Rights Act 1998, the cornerstone of Human Rights in the UK, is written not for laypeople, but lawyers. Instead of being where you would expect, right at the front, the rights themselves are buried in a Schedule. Whilst this might make sense to the lawyers, it does nothing for accessibility.

Thus, Rightsinfo tackles accessibility in two ways:

  1. By providing summaries of Human Rights judgments in the form of short stories. The initial 50 most important Human Rights cases are being covered day by day until they are all online;
  2. By providing beautiful infographs that allow the reader to learn in a visual, linear and logical way. Two are particularly helpful in this regard: ‘What Human Rights Do For Us’, a breakdown of cases and their practical consequences, and ‘Everything You Need to Know About Human Rights’, an illustrated timeline of where Human Rights came from, and how they have developed over the years.

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Imbalance

Certain media organisations are notorious for reporting Human Rights issues in a negative way. They would have the public believe that Human Rights are used solely by criminals, murderers and rapists. When combined with inaccessibility, this is a dangerous situation. Laypeople are unable to identify the truth, therefore relying on inaccurate media reports.

Consequently, it is no surprise that only 22% of the public are ‘pro’ Human Rights, 26% against, and the remainder ambivalent or neutral.

Rightsinfo cannot prevent the media from misreporting, but it can make it easier for laypeople to identify inaccuracies and develop their own opinions rather than relying on the misinformation often fed to them by the press.

Inaccuracy

Inaccurate reporting of Human Rights issues typically goes hand-in-hand with imbalance. The truth is often bent by the media to fit its agenda or political viewpoint.

Consequently, Rightsinfo has an infograph specifically aimed at dispelling the 14 worst Human Rights myths, from ‘Human Rights cases are decided by unelected European judges’, all the way to the comical ‘a man was allowed to stay in the UK because he had a pet cat’.

Again, Rightsinfo cannot prevent the media from misreporting, but it can aid laypeople in correcting mistakes.

What Can You Do?

Rightsinfo is great, but without being shared, it will never reach laypeople on mass.

A certain online ‘legal’ publication has been quick to criticise Rightsinfo as a ‘vanity project’ that will make no difference as, apparently, lawyers do not understand that ‘many of those [mainstream media] readers and listeners are themselves keen to be inflamed’.

However, this is entirely defeatist, and does not add up with the statistics. Okay, Rightsinfo will probably never win around the 26% of the public against Human Rights, and possibly not the 11% that are ambivalent, but if it wins over even a third of those 41% that are neutral, the project will be a huge success.

Yes, the project might be optimistic, but stranger things have happened. Rightsinfo provides the groundwork for Human Rights orientated content going viral for all of the right reasons, something that has not been done before. If anything is going to change perceptions, its this.

Adam and his Rightsinfo team have done the legwork to make this happen; now all you need to do is share it.

So engage your friends (whether lawyers or otherwise): share Rightsinfo with them, and start some discussion. This is how you can play a part in changing the way the British public think about Human Rights.

Do this, and perhaps by the 2020 General Election (courtesy of the Fixed Term Parliament Act) the public will be well enough informed to criticise the abolitionist policies that we have seen in this General Election.

This is all you need: rightsinfo.org.

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Tagged: Human Rights

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