Fylde Coast Amnesty Group in call to MPs to challenge 'raid on rights'
Civil rights campaigners on the Fylde coast say democratic rights in the UK are being eroded and they are calling on MPs to back their campaign to challenge a number of Government Bills.
The members of the Fylde Coast Amnesty Group have raised concerns over a raft of new Government measures which they say could reverse hard-won rights in the country.
Norah Lynam (inset) chair of the group, said: “Justice, fairness, offering a place of safety and the right to peacefully protest have always been key features of British society.
“All of them are under threat as never before. We are calling on local MPs to oppose this raid on rights.”
One of their targets is the Police, Sentencing, Crimes and Courts Bill which the group say would place new restrictions on the right to peaceful protest and potentially entrench racism in policing.
Another is the Nationality and Borders Bill, which they believe would reduce the right of people to seek asylum in the UK.
Both bills are currently going through Parliament.
The group is working with a number of other groups across the country, including Liberty, Freedom from Torture, the British Institute for Human Rights and others , to put pressure on the Government over these issues.
Cat Smith, the Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, agreed with the group's opposition, but Paul Maynard, Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, insisted the Government measures were not attacks on people's rights.
Ms Smith said: “I am totally opposed to the Nationality and Borders Bill.
"The Government says these new proposals will stop smuggling gangs from operating across Europe. Yet, no one has been able to explain how reducing the rights of people claiming asylum in the UK will do that.
"The Bill is fundamentally flawed and means this Conservative Government will turn their backs some of the most vulnerable people on Earth. It risks breaching international law and undermines global efforts to support victims of war and persecution.
"It doesn’t help that the Government has undermined efforts to tackle the forces driving people from their homes in the first place, through cutting the UK’s 0.7% international aid and abolishing the Department for International Development."
However, Mr Maynard said: “Bringing the rules for static protests in line with rules for moving demonstrations does not diminish the right to protest; reducing the number of dangerous sea crossings and diminishing the power of people smugglers does not detract from a right to asylum.
" Amending human rights legislation to reflect our new post-Brexit judicial system does not diminish a commitment to human rights.
"As a Government that brought in the Modern Slavery Act, we are in no mood to diminish it either.
“Campaign groups often want to go further faster, or in a direction that many others do not wish to go in.
"Legislation must always find a balance between competing interest groups, and this group of organisations has always been a vocal campaigning lobby."