Can human rights make our societies better? This podcast explores the most important human rights issues of the day through engaging and accessible interviews with high-profile guests and straightforward guides to key concepts and key events. Presented by leading human rights lawyer Adam Wagner.
In this episode I am joined by Katrina Ffrench, CEO of StopWatch and Matthew Ryder QC, a barrister at Matrix Chambers and formerly London's Deputy Mayor. We discuss why Black, Asian and minority ethnic people are 54% more likely to be fined by the police under Coronavirus powers, how this fits into the bigger picture of stop and search in the UK and what impact the death of George Floyd has had on the fight against racial discrimination in the UK. You can find show notes at www.betterhumanpodcast.com.
The police handling of sexual violence is one of the most complex and difficult issues in our society today. Why are rape conviction rates so low? Are the police doing enough to investigate? And how can human rights laws help? This week I’m joined by Harriet Johnson, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers. This episode was recorded before coronavirus so excuse us they a couple of the references are out of date - please check betterhumanpodcast.com for the show notes.
Can people who don’t live with each other have sex? What is “overnight”? And many other questions. I am joined again by David Allen Green as we take a detailed look at the newly updated lockdown regulations. As always, please make sure to follow the government’s guidance. You can find the two previous episodes with David here (Part 1 https://anchor.fm/better-human/episodes/18---The-Covid-19-lockdown-and-the-law-Part-1-ec8otc) and here (Part 2 https://anchor.fm/better-human/episodes/25---The-Covid-19-lockdown-and-the-law-Part-3-ee2oeo)
Every year, in every kind of setting where people are detained, thousands of visits take place to monitor for human rights violations. Those visits, to prisons, police cells, mental health hospitals, are by volunteers. In this episode I talk to four key players in the "National Preventative Mechanism" - Alison Thomson, ,Anne Finlayson, Dame Anne Owersand Louise Finer who tell me about their work and why it matters. This interview was recorded before COVID-19 hit so I have added a short extra interview with Professor Sir Malcolm Evans, Chair of the United Nations Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture, who gives an update on how monitoring systems worldwide are working (or not) during the pandemic. More info at www.betterhumanpodcast.com
I am delighted to be joined again by lawyer and legal commentator David Allen Green to discuss the latest lockdown legal developments and what a public inquiry into the Covid-19 outbreak might look like. We had a spirited and sometimes critical conversation about the law but nothing is intended to suggest people shouldn’t follow government guidance. Follow the government guidance! Further resources at www.betterhumanpodcast.com
Human rights are tools which protect everyone from beaches of aspects of their essential humanity. They are all the more important in times of crisis such as in the present day. In this talk I start with the five years in 1946-51 which created the modern human rights movement and show how the lessons understood by the movement's founders are exactly those which we need to understand most today in the age of Covid-19. This lecture was first given to Limmud Together. You can find the slides at www.betterhumanpodcast.com
What is happening to migrants during the Covid-19 crisis? This conversation with Chai Patel from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants was both enlightening and worrying. The 'hostile environment' policy pre-existed Covid-19 but it made it harder to control the spread of the virus amongst migrant communities. We also discuss the disproportionate effect the virus is having on BAME communities, immigration detention and other aspects of the immigration system which are causing hardship during this crisis.
A month after our first coronavirus and human rights special, I am delighted to be joined again by barristers Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Nichola Higgins and academics Aoife Nolan and Judith Bueno De Mesquita. We have a wide-ranging discussion on the International dimension of the crisis, the healthcare response and the lockdown. You can hear the first discussion in Episodes 16 and 17 at https://anchor.fm/better-human/episodes/16---Coronavirus-and-human-rights-special-Part-12-ebopmk and https://anchor.fm/better-human/episodes/17---Coronavirus-and-human-rights-special-part-22-ebq4uv/ - we had a few technical issues so not everybody was present for each part of the discussion - sorry about that.
I am joined again by barrister Susie Alegre to discuss the many human rights implications of social distancing, including whether contact tracing apps breach the right to privacy, the risks of moving even more of our lives online and how to manage fake virus news online. Show notes at www.betterhumanpodcast.com
One of the largely untold stories of the Covid-19 crisis is that many courts in the UK have for the first time ‘gone online’. This is for good reasons - the justice system must continue even if we mostly cannot physically meet in court rooms. But there are huge risks to fair trials and open justice from this sudden mass experiment with online courts. My guests for this episode are Natalie Byrom from the Legal Education Foundation and Penelope Gibbs from Transform Justice. You can get show notes at www.betterhumanpodcast.com
The response to Covid-19 is the key human rights issue in the world right now as states move to enforce ‘lockdowns’ of billions of people. In the UK the government has issued guidance on social distancing and emergency regulations which give the police extensive new powers over people's everyday lives. In Part 2 of this episode, I speak to Kirsty Brimelow QC about the new 'lockdown regulations' and the criminal law, and then with Aswini Weererante QC and Sophy Miles about the impact of the new laws on people with mental health issues. You can read source materials and other links at patreon.com/betterhuman
The response to Covid-19 is the key human rights issue in the world at the moment as states move to enforce ‘lockdowns’ of billions of people. In the UK the government has issued guidance on social distancing and emergency regulations which give the police extensive new powers over people's everyday lives. This podcast is a discussion of those laws. I am joined by David Allen Green, lawyer and legal commentator, to take a ‘deep dive’ into the new regulations. We recorded this episode at 9am on Tuesday 31 March so apologies if it has already been overtaken by events when you listen to this.
Remember, everyone should follow the government’s guidance to save lives and protect the NHS. If you have any concerns about your own actions, there is a useful Frequently Asked Questions guidance on the gov.uk website. You can find other links in the episodes notes at at patreon.com/betterhuman
This week the UK parliament will debate the Coronavirus Bill, the most sweeping set of emergency powers since the Second World War. The bill will bring huge changes to mental health law, the entitlement to social care, burial and coronial laws, police powers... and more. The 329-page law will be debated in days rather than months. What impact will this have for human rights? In Part 2 of this coronavirus special I discuss the bill, and other issues arising from the pandemic, with an expert panel including barristers Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Nichola Higgins and academics Aoife Nolan and Judith Bueno De Mesquita. Part 1 is here: https://anchor.fm/better-human/episodes/16---Coronavirus-and-human-rights-special-Part-12-ebopmk
No recent issue has raised so many human rights issues in such a short space of time as the coronavirus pandemic. How can governments protect the right to life without unnecessarily undermining freedoms? What rights do we have in quarantine? Can good governance survive such an acute crisis? I am joined in this episode by four human rights experts from various fields, barristers Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Nichola Higgins and academics Aoife Nolan and Judith Bueno De Mesquita. In this first part we explore the utility (and limits) of human rights as a lens to understand the pandemic and the governments' response, in the second we look at the UK's new emergency powers. Part 1 is here https://anchor.fm/better-human/episodes/17---Coronavirus-and-human-rights-special-part-22-ebq4uv
Can our liberal values survive the pressure of a global pandemic? This week I interview Adam Gopnik, a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine and author of a new book on liberalism, A Thousand Small Sanities. We didn't intend to talk about Coronavirus but as we met last week the world was beginning to respond to the new reality. The conversation also broadens out so hang on in there if you are already a little Coronavirus weary. More details as always at www.patreon.com/betterhuman
Gay cake and free speech, Orthodox trans fathers, religious symbols in public places... what happens when fundamental beliefs conflict with other peoples' human rights? I find issues over religion and belief to be fascinating examples of how human rights laws balance almost impossibly difficult conflicts between people and groups. In this episode I am joined by Yehudis Fletcher of Nehamu and Andrew Copson of Humanists UK. I think it is a wonderful discussion. More details at patron.com/betterhuman
As the government’s plan to “update” human rights laws gather pace, and the calls to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) re-emerge from the Brexit fog, this episode explores the too little known story of how the ECHR helps keep illiberalism at bay throughout Europe. I talk to Philip Leach and Joanna Evans from the amazing European Human Rights Advocacy Centre about their work in Eastern Europe standing up against truly horrific human rights abuses. This should be required listening for MPs who blithely say the UK should abandon the human rights system it was so instrumental in creating. More info at patreon.com/betterhuman
Page 48 of the 2019 Conservative manifesto promised wide-ranging changes to the Human Rights Act and judicial review, two important tools we have for challenging decisions of the state. I am joined by Tom Clark, Martha Spurrier, Tessa Gregory and Charlie Falconer to discuss what is likely to happen and why we could be facing an important constitutional upheaval. This is Part 2 of a special episode in partnership the Prospect Magazine Podcast. You can hear Part 1, on the independence of the judiciary, over at https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/topics/the-prospect-podcast
I am delighted to be joined in this episode by Billy Bragg, singer and activist. Billy and I talk about his new book, the Three Dimensions of Freedom, and much else beside. What is freedom? What is it worth without accountability? And why is the sometimes toxic environment on social media so central to Billy's understanding of freedom in the modern world? Most importantly, can music change the world (the answer will surprise you)?
The modern human rights system emerged from the flames of the Holocaust. Professor Philippe Sands QC has done as much as anyone to tell that story through the prism of his own tragic family history. In this discussion, recorded live at an even organised by Tzedek, we discuss how Philippe's wonderful book East West Street came to be written, why the lessons of the 1940s are still fundamentally important today and what we can do to honour them as living memory of the Holocaust disappears.
Are algorithms controlling our thoughts? Does Facebook resemble a totalitarian state? How can we stop political parties exploiting our innermost thoughts? International human rights barrister Susie Alegre and I discuss why the human right to freedom of thought might be the most useful prism through which to answer these questions. An absolutely fascinating discussion which gets to the heart of some of the most important issues involving the fast evolving technology which we all use but barely understand. As always, more information at patreon.com/betterhuman
The climate emergency is a human rights emergency. As global temperatures rise, along with sea levels, there is likely to be a profound effect on people's access to their basic needs such as food, water and clean air. In this week's episode, I speak to Molly Lipson and Tobias Garnett from Extinction Rebellion and Keina Yoshida, barrister and expert on human rights and the environment, about how the human rights and environmental activist worlds overlap and sometimes collide. More info on patreon.com/betterhuman
Professor Francesca Klug OBE and Jonathan Cooper OBE relate the fascinating inside story of how the UK passed its first modern bill of rights: the Human Rights Act 1998. In our current times of division it is inspiring to hear how cross-ideological consensus was built and practical solutions found to seemingly impossible problems. This was an amazing discussion and timely given the Conservative Party's commitment to "update" the Human Rights Act.
Will the Human Rights Act survive the next government? What other human rights issues are in the party manifestos? A conversation with Natasha Holcroft-Emmes. We have tried to pick out some of the main points from the manifestos but inevitably there is so much which could impact on human rights that the review is not comprehensive, but hopefully helpful for those considering who to vote for.
The UK has a dark and dangerous constitution... this episode is about how Brexit shows it's finally time to write it down. The mismanaged referendum, an attempt by a Prime Minister to shut down Parliament to avoid scrutiny and the continued efforts to water down fundamental rights are all reasons, in my view, for working towards a written constitution. This was recorded at a lecture I gave to the Pembroke College Cambridge Politics Society. As always, you can find out more at www.patreon.com/betterhuman
This is a fascinating and at times moving conversation with Jonathan Cooper OBE, a barrister who has been involved in some of the defining LGBT+ cases of recent times. We take a journey from 1967 when homosexual acts were partly legalised, through decades of state persecution of gay people, to highlight some of the landmark human rights cases which changed the law not just in the UK but across Europe. Jonathan shared both his professional and very personal experiences. It's quite a journey. As always, episode notes are at patreon.com/betterhuman
In societies based on human rights principles how can people still live in poverty? This episode is about an important but, in my experience, poorly understood area - social and economic rights. I interview the brilliant Professor Aiofe Nolan about the principles and politics behind the rights to food, social security, health and other rights which are essential to human flourishing, and surely just as important as so-called 'political' rights. So why aren't they more widely adopted?
You can find episode notes on www.patreon.com/betterhuman
This is an important discussion with Schona Jolly QC, barrister and Chair of the UK's Bar Human Rights Committee. As with everything Brexit, this issue generates misinformation and exaggerated claims, so the point of this episode is to explain in plain English what Brexit is (yes, you have to start there) and how it could impact on all of our rights, including in the workplace, environmental rights, anti-discrimination and freedom of movement. I'm afraid it's not for the faint hearted, especially the bit at the end about no deal.. As always, find show notes and how to support the podcast at Patreon.com/betterhuman
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". In the age of social media, is that still true? This week I speak to Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship about the human right to freedom of speech. Sometimes described as the life blood of democracy, why is this important right so controversial? Do we have a right to offend, or not to be offended? Is Julian Assange a journalist? What about Tommy Robinson? Where is the dividing line between racial hatred and protected opinions? And much more...
You can get episode notes including links for further reading at www.patreon.com/betterhuman
Welcome to a brand new podcast all about human rights presented by me, Adam Wagner. In this short introduction I explain the idea behind setting up the podcast. I think that in today's polarised and dangerous political times, human rights can give us the lens we need to understand what's happening and make our societies better. Each episode will explore a key human rights issue with expert guests.
More info and how to support the podcast: www.patreon.com/betterhuman