Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Civil or human or political rights are rights which rest upon the premise of birthright into a polity or state or society. Conceptually, one’s birth must ensure that a person is a citizen who can fully participate in the civil and political life of that state without experiencing discrimination or repression. Neither government or organizations or individuals must be permitted to infringe upon those basic human rights.

Yet, civil rights go beyond those already stated to include the guarantee that every person shall be protected from discrimination on grounds of disability whether physical or mental, grounds of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion. That’s not all. Civil rights must include ensuring each person’s integrity, life and safety, and privacy, and freedoms of thought and speech.

Don’t stop there anyone. Civil/political rights under our democratic governance include procedural fairness in the administration of law. That refers to the rights of the accused, i.e. due process, the right to a fair trial, the right to seek legal remedy or redress. All of this can be subsumed under the title of natural justice.

Furthermore as citizens with these inherent rights, every person shall also enjoy freedoms of association and of assembly and petition and the rights to participate in civil society and in politics.

Even in democratic societies such as ours in British Columbia we have been negligent to stay abreast of these rights when it comes to practicing the administration of government responsibilities such as protecting children. Of course it is necessary and right to protect vulnerable children from neglect, hunger, abuse even when biological parents are responsible for such wrong. Yes, intervention is mandated and understood by us all. Yet legislation can be misinterpreted and misapplied and mismanaged or over-managed. This is what has happened to Ayn Van Dyk, a ten year old child who deals with autism, and who has been compelled to live in a foster home for eighteen months. This event has impacted Ayn’s siblings, two brothers, and Ayn’s mother and father. Has it been a justifiable removal and detention? I do not believe that it has.

Several lines of defence for this parody of protection will be offered by the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development. Not one of them compliments the civil rights to which Ayn and her family are entitled. Not so long after her removal from her father dating back to June 2011. At that time it could be reasonably argued that there was concern for her safety and well-being. Her school was challenged by her overt and consistent aggressive behaviour attributable to autism. Their communication with MCFD influenced the Ministry action. Ayn wandered from her fenced back yard in June 2011, as some children do and certainly autistic children without the learned constraints do. Four days later social workers forced Derek Hoare’s hand. He was required to voluntarily sign over temporary custody of his daughter to MCFD. There may not have been an overt threat or ultimatum. Nevertheless, four days later without warning him, MCFD took his child from her school and he has not seen her since that time. The civil rights of the members of this family have been infringed upon through willful disregard or legal choreography, slow dancing with the law. Perhaps what bothers me as much as anything has been the less than diligent and sincere attempt to spend time with Derek and his sons and to know him and how he parents, so that an amicable and speedy return could be affected between daughter and family. Derek himself is a staunch advocate of civil rights. I will certainly understand if he feels that his are being trampled upon.

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