This week I took to a useful resource I have used throughout the year; The Human Rights and Business Resource Centre. I love this resource as it gives you easy access to issues from all over the world that I might otherwise miss using my normal news sources. I clicked on a topic I haven’t looked at before: Freedom of Association. I have to say, I don’t know a lot about this topic (although I probably should.)
A quick google has led me back to the Human Rights Act 1998, more specifically article 11:
Freedom of assembly and association
- Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
- No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This Article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.
The article I found under this topic was this one which concerns the removal of a Blockade on the Torex Gold mine in Mexico. I didn’t really understand at first what was meant by a blockade but given article 11 of the Human Rights Act I made an assumption it has something to do with protest. I was right! The entrance to the min was physically blocked due to a peaceful protest by some unionised workers wanting a change to their labour rights.
I thought this an interesting topic, as I know that extractive forms of production such as mining are riddled with human rights issues. What I found interesting about the statement that Torex made about the removal of the blockade was that they said:
‘ The blockade led to conflict between communities and denied to thousands of citizens their constitutionally protected right to work.’
This shows the difficulty of human rights issues, as it’s likely that the workers protesting were only doing so to improve working conditions for themselves and their peers. However, in doing so this caused the mine to be closed for a number of months which meant a lot of people local to the area must have been out of work. The mention of conflict is unsuprising as I’m sure the whole event would tear apart a community. Sometimes drastic measures need to be taken to combat human rights issues, but then in doing so you can breach the rights of others, in this case the right to work. Which then causes tensions and conflict which can impeach on an individuals right to life. I had to do a bit of digging (pun unintended) on this topic but it was definitely worth it.