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22 November, 2006

Shami Chakrabarti speaks at the Citizenship Foundation's second annual Hooper Lecture

"TROUBLOUS TIMES" :YOUNG PEOPLE, CITIZENSHIP AND RESPECT was the title of Shami Chakrabarti’s lecture last night at the Citizenship Foundation's annual Hooper Lecture held at the Abbey Community Centre in Westminster. The Director of Liberty examined modern society's image of young people as yobs, hoodies, and thugs, and in turn, how human rights can establish citizenship and respect.

“Age” she said “is just one of numerous badges of difference amongst human beings”, intolerance and fear of “the other” cause “children and young people -as an obvious disenfranchised minority, without political, financial or physical power inevitably to lose out, but so do adults and the whole of society, by squandering the future.”

Media she added, was the worse offender in shaping the negative way children and young people are perceived. “Every day is filled with another political speech or media commentary denigrating young people. I know that we neglect, abuse and imprison far too many children and expect from them what we do not give in return.”

Speaking about how the concept of children’s rights was often a highly controversial topic, more so even than supporting rights for terrorists, she spoke about the difficulty of challenging preconceived perceptions: “If for example, human rights really were about complete and unfettered freedom for parents, how could the Convention on Human Rights protect children and young people from inhuman and degrading treatment? Conversely, if they were about unfettered freedom for children and young people, how could adults and governments be held accountable for their education and protection?”

She was however hopeful, concluding “in some important respects, children and young people are different from other previously demonised minorities and these vital differences may yet make all the difference… In short, I see the vital interests of children and young people and the inspiration of fundamental rights and freedoms coming together in my life-time for the long-term benefit of both.”

The Citizenship Foundation's Hooper Lecture is an annual event established in honour of Lord Justice Tony Hooper to highlight important current questions at the meeting point of citizenship, human rights, education and the law.

The Lecture was this year sponsored by 18 Red Lion Court, Chambers of David Etheridge QC.

With thanks to Montana Wines and Domaine Chapuis. Logo of 18 Red Lion Court chambers.

18 Red Lion Court chambers, sponsor of the Hooper Lecture 2006
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