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A thought for Human Rights Day

Britain’s government needs to uphold principles of the Human Rights declaration says Matilda MacAttram

The United Nations has made non-discrimination the focus of this year’s Human Rights Day at time when the UK’s government is attempting to push through plans on the national DNA database, which will discriminate against almost every black family living in the UK.

Plans put forward by the Home Office to push through legislation in the new Policing, crime and private security bill, will allow innocent DNA to be retained on the criminal database for up a minimum of six years for adults and three years for children.

This move flies in the face of a European Court of Human Rights ruling passed last year which found the policy of retaining innocent DNA violates Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

Currently anyone profiled on the database will be considered to be a suspect in any future crime.

Being on the criminal database will hinder both job and travel prospects, as every Police National Computer record which is linked to each DNA profile which prospective employers routinely use to run criminal record checks.

With 77% of all young black men and 42% of the entire black male population profiled on the database, there in a growing consensus that government policy over the database has covertly criminalised Black Britain.

It is with little wonder than that when the nation’s leaders have publicly condemned other nation’s Human Rights record this has been met with cynicism at best and disbelieve at worse.

The punitive treatment of refugees and migrants in detention centres, the alarming increase of unexplained in-patient deaths of psychiatric patients as well as the lack of justice that family members of people who have lost their loved ones in police custody need to be urgently addressed before the leader of any nation can call on any other nation to put their house in order.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has become a universal standard for defending and promoting human rights.

We welcome the commemoration of this important date, but in order for people from some of Britain’s African Caribbean communities to see this anniversary as a day to be celebrated there needs to be a new resolve by Britain’s government to uphold the very principles of which this declaration is based.

Matilda MacAttram is head of Black Mental Health UK

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