04 Feb 2016 Shami Chakrabarti Visits Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre (The NCS) To Meet And Talk With Students
On Monday 1st February 2016 we were honoured to host Shami Chakrabarti, who spent an hour with students talking about her work supporting and defending human rights as the Director of Liberty, the British civil liberties organisation.
A Barrister by background, she was called to the Bar in 1994 and worked as a lawyer in the Home Office from 1996 until 2001 for Governments of both persuasions. After joining Liberty in 2001, she became heavily involved in its engagement with the ‘War on Terror’ and with the defence and promotion of human rights values in Parliament, the Courts and wider society. Since becoming Liberty’s Director in 2003, she has written and spoken widely on the importance of the post-WW2 human rights framework as an essential component of a free and democratic society.
During her talk, Ms Chakrabarti detailed the history of her organisation citing the national hunger march in 1932 through to the strength of campaigners such as Baroness Doreen Lawrence whose son was tragically murdered in a race hate crime.
“She was campaigning in Parliament, in the papers and she became really annoying to the police and so they put undercover police officers in her friendship circle, in her family and in her home. Imagine what that feels like. That was just 20 years ago, not 82 years ago. “
Ms Chakrabarti eloquently took students through the key articles of the Human Rights Act 1998 and explained how these rights must be protected and defended.
“Whenever they say ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’… Just remember my friend Doreen Lawrence. Just remember the hunger marchers. “
After speaking for 25 minutes, our students were then immensely lucky to spend a further 40 minutes asking questions about their own personal interests in civil liberties, areas that support their studies and quizzing Ms Chakarbarti on her views on a variety of issues from feminism to what she refers to as the ‘snoopers charter.’
You can watch her talk below and read highlights along with the students view below.
Video – watch the full lecture
Highlights from the Lecture and Q&A session
“Human rights are for everybody, not just people who are popular… The trick is in the word ‘human’. Human rights. Not British rights, or American rights, or French rights. Human rights. And that is what’s at stake in the current debate in this country.”
“Whatever you hear on the radio or see on the TV, everybody loves human rights. Their own. And those of their family and their friends. It’s other people’s human rights that are a bit of a problem. And so the language begins; ‘migrants’ and not ‘people’, etc, etc. So the beauty of this principal of equal treatment or non discrimination is it forces people to imagine that’s them. It’s them washed up on that beach. It’s them in Calais with the bulldozers and tear gas and barbed wire. Right? It forces that empathy because its too easy to sacrifice the other. “
“The question was about something called the draft investigatory powers bill. These pieces of legislation that always attack your freedoms have always got long boring names in order to stop you looking too closely. They call it the draft investigatory powers bill and we call it the snoopers charter. Language is important in life, in politics and debate.“
“Yes I am a feminist. I’m a feminist because of the injustices that society perpetrates on men and women today. A feminist is not to be a man hater. I have a 14 year old son and I’m a feminist as much for my 14 year old son as for myself and my 17 year old god-daughter… Yes I am a feminist as much for you sir as myself. “
“I am for votes at 16. Why? Listen to yourselves. Should there be any doubt? Is there a single comment or question that you’ve heard here today that suggests that the questioner couldn’t make a vote? “
Everyone at The NCS would like to thank Ms Chakrabarti for the time she spent with students and for giving them an insight into her work and for giving them a chance to quiz her directly. The experience will long be remembered and support NCS students’ studies and university applications.
The student’s view
A very insightful and captivating speech, her passion for protecting peoples' rights is unequivocal, Shami and her organisation Liberty are the guardians of civil liberties in the UK and we owe them much
Shami Chakrabarti is undoubtedly one of the most authentic and thought provoking individuals I have ever been in the presence of. It was a lecture consisting of highly invaluable food for thought that made me reconsider the extent to which our society neglects equal treatment. Not only is she an inspiration for my future legal career but her oritary skills strengthened my belief in the women of today.
A thought provoking, inspiring and amazing speech by one of the most powerful women in Britain. Shami Chakrabarti, an honest women who has left students questioning our own civil liberties.
This lecture was something that blew my mind, I was in awe throughout the whole lecture by her authenticity and her knowledge/passion on human rights. It was an honour for me to attend such a wonderful, credible and passionate lecture led by Shami
It was easily the most thought provoking, engaging lecture we have had at the NCS, we were not spoken to, but spoken with, as young adults with valid opinions. I am incredibly grateful.