Act for Freedom 2017: Dennis Edney

May 2, 2017

Dennis Edney



Dennis Edney

Dennis Edney

1. It is an accepted fact that the world today faces grave challenges to the rule of law and human rights.

2. Previously well-established and accepted legal principles are now being called into question, in all regions of the world, through what I would suggest are ill-conceived responses to terrorism. Many of the achievements in the legal protection of human rights are under attack.

3. Since September 2001, many countries have adopted new counter-terrorism measures that are in breach of their international obligations. In some countries, the post-9-11 climate of fear and insecurity has been exploited to justify long-standing human rights violations carried out in the name of national security.

4. This has led to an intense debate over where the balance lies between the rule of law, human rights, and civil liberties on the one hand and security on the other.

5. In adopting measures aimed in protecting our national security, we are fighting for more than the safety of our citizens. We are also fighting for the preservation of our democratic way of life, our right to freedom of thought and expression, and our commitment to the rule of law; those liberties which have been hard won over the centuries and which we should hold dear.

6. To those who would subordinate human rights to national security could benefit from the words of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. He said:

There is considerably less to be proud about, and a good deal to be embarrassed about, when one reflects on the shabby treatment civil liberties have received in the United States during times of war and perceived threats to national security […] After each perceived security crisis ended, the United States has remorsefully realized the abrogation of civil liberties was unnecessary. But it has proven unable to prevent itself from repeating the error when the next crisis came along.