30 November 2017
This morning I made my way to Southall’s Villiers High School to meet Matteo Bergamini, founder of Shout Out UK, a partner of our ‘Knowing Our Rights’ research project, to deliver a human rights workshop.
An assembly of 62 students made their way into the auditorium and within a minute the interactive presentation was underway. The students were split into groups and were asked to name several rights they may be aware of. The groups fired off answer after answer, correctly. Their intellect impressive and their enthusiasm, obvious.
Matteo Bergamini delivering the Knowing Our Rights workshop at Villiers High School in Southall
The eagerness of the students spilled over one particular issue that stood out, which seems to have also been the highlight of the event, the right to privacy. Sounds general enough, until it was linked with the fight against terrorism, in connection with recent events in Manchester and London in particular, where police revealed that these atrocities may have been prevented had they been able to access the personal messaging apps of the attackers. It really got the students talking. As expected, not many were easy with the thought of relinquishing personal privacy that they so much enjoy across their currently encrypted social media platforms.
As seen in the graph below, the general response from the 54 voting students was in disagreement for the repealing of the HRA and shifting from the European Convention on Human rights. The majority, 57% voting that they fully disagreed with the government’s intention.
The time may come when private use of one’s devices may end in order to increase collective security, overriding personal freedom as a priority. So, the point most on the students’ minds toward the end of the event was balancing the importance of collective security and freedom of the individual or outright choosing one over the other, and any risks that this may entail.