Linking any human rights or advocacy group to unsavoury characters is not a particularly difficult task. Despite this, these links should not tarnish their image or cause, because of this single underlying value: defending rights for all means that we must allow the most seemingly undeserving of persons to also enjoy them. This value protects us all since it upholds a consistent rights-based system.
Governments and vested interests seeking greater powers will seek to exploit this value by highlighting these unpopular individuals or at times causes in order to call for a restriction on our basic rights. We must always resist this urge.
Furthermore, it is always easier to sensationalise a story to create uproar and fear, but this provides no constructive solutions, nor does it serve the purpose of justice.
There seems to be a hierarchy of acceptability when the media confronts organisations that operate in the campaign space. Those who prop up the hierarchy are tolerated by the establishment and enjoy the freedom of defending individuals’ rights without being accused or it being implied that they share the same beliefs or opinions as them.
But those who fall foul of this hierarchy are not afforded this privilege. They must always explain and caveat or footnote their publications and statements to address this imbalance. The unnecessary becomes necessary, purely because these organisations or persons are rattling the wrong sort of cages.
Defending the rights of X, or objecting to the treatment of X, doesn’t prove or even suggest support for X’s views. Why is this necessary???
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) 4 January 2016
CAGE is unapologetic about its principled stances. We would act on any case where there is an abuse of rule of law and due process. It would seem that because we share the same faith as many of our clients, we are viewed through their alleged offenses. The normal protections that human rights organisations and criminal defence lawyers as well as many other professionals who operate in a similar space enjoy are not extended to us.
Not only is this a glaring double standard but it is also part of a wider more concerted effort to render organisations that expose injustice non-existent.What is even more perplexing is the absurd obsession of referring to events and statements made in the past at every opportunity, regardless of the relevance or lack thereof. There is a clear attempt to misrepresent the truth and dissuade others, through fear of being smeared, from associating with CAGE. Rather than addressing the real issues, they deflect onto worn out, exhausted tropes while making an absolute mockery of themselves in the process. Journalism is being dealt a disservice by the insistence of large sections of the press to engage superficially, a mind numbing process that only serves the financial interests of the media moguls that bankroll them. In this year alone a specific paper has written on average an article a month, on issues ranging from education, health, human rights and the Mayoral contest and all deliberately misquote CAGE in an attempt to connect us with the actions of a particular individual, despite these comments bearing no relevance to the article.
Our efforts to confront the government on its counter-terrorism policies have gained widespread appeal despite the demonization of our cause. It is therefore expected that the political and media apparatus mobilise against CAGE.
This does not faze us as an organisation. Rather, it illustrates the need for us to continue highlighting the abuses of due process we encounter, no matter how unpopular the individual. This ensures that our rights-based system remains intact.
“We will continue to call for more constructive solutions to end the cycles of violence that characterise the War on Terror, as opposed to reinforce it. We will continue to campaign for a return to the principle of the rule of law, an end to torture and a world free from oppression and injustice”. Learn how you can support this struggle for justice.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)