On Friday I attended an introductory meeting to the Liberty Letter Clinic, a project I’ve decided to help with. Liberty are a UK-based human rights organisation who raise legal issues regarding protection of civil liberties. The clinic is designed so that Liberty, who receive thousands of letters each year, can send some of their correspondance to us and we would draft responses and send them back to be verified and posted. These letters largely consist of educating the public as to whether a problem they are suffering is, legally speaking, a human rights violation, and advising them on their best course of action (Liberty themselves can only afford to take on a few key cases).
While it sounds like both interesting and valuable work, I was intrigued by how many people had decided it was good and right purely because it was volunteer-based. Even after the seminar, it took me some time to decide whether or not this was right for me to be involved with based upon their policies. For example, they are opposed to retention of information (specifically DNA profiles) by the police where a suspect is not charged. Now, whilst I understand their position because information with restricted access can be a dangerous thing, my personal goal is for there to be more information but freely available to all. I firmly believe that complete freedom of information is fundamental to a future peaceful society, and will no doubt write more on the subject soon.
So by supporting liberty, I am essentially working against my ultimate goal, at least in the short term. Nevertheless, in this instance I have decided the work I would be doing is beneficial enough to others to be worthwhile, and will also offer a practical side to the Constitutional Law that I’ve been learning so far. And it’s that practical side to the law that I’ve missed since working with Steve in the States last year.