Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tam Baillie, Children's Commissioner needs someone to explain Human Rights to him!

Dear All

Every so often someone pops up with a stupid idea, “rights” which don’t exist are put forward as having some kind of value.

Scotland's new Children's Commissioner, Tam Baillie is one such character who wants Judges to take into consideration whether an offender is a parent before locking them up.

Baillie is proposing radical changes for Judges to take into account the human rights of an accused's children.

That is sheer nonsense and an abuse of the human rights system; he is proposing to paralyse the criminal justice system.

Tam Baillie’s role is to ensure Scotland fulfils its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In other words; he is so short sighted that he appears unable to look at the wider picture.

He wants an amendment to the forthcoming Criminal Justice Bill, to insert children's rights as a factor to be taken into consideration alongside previous convictions.

This is completely wrong on his part; I can only wonder how such an individual managed to get appointed as a Children's Commissioner?

The over riding thing that should determine whether a person may or may not be sent to prison is the crime itself.

I would sincerely hope that Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Secretary has no truck with this idea as it creates a two tier justice system.

If two people are guilty of an equal crime then the punishment should be equal as well.

Mr Baillie's idea comes from a ruling made by Judge Albie Sachs who set a legal precedent in the case of S versus M by not sending a woman to jail because she had three children.

Baillie said;

“This was a landmark judgment in South Africa of a woman appealing a custodial sentence partly because she had three children".

He added;

"They thought it was an open and shut case but when they looked at the impact on her children, they discovered what they described as a small perforation' which changed their way of thinking."

If you break the law then you cannot use the human rights of others in order to circumvent justice. That isn’t then a human right, as “rights” are specific to the individual in the Court.

Judge Albie Sachs decision in S versus M is not I would argue based on human rights rather it is based on a subjective whim.

This nonsense should therefore not be touted as a human rights issue.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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