samedi, décembre 3, 2022

David Matas, Canadian lawyer

Well, thank you very much for asking me to say a few words.

I am in unfortunate position of never having met Lord Slynn, in fact I never saw him, and never had I talked to him. I never know what he looked like until I came here today and saw his picture. 
I came from Canada and I wanted to pay tribute to Lord Slynn and his accomplishments and his efforts in his life. Because even though I had not met him, he was an important symbol and an example to me and to others.

I myself have been very active throughout my entire career in dealing with international Human Rights violations and in dealing with violations in country like Iran. It is very difficult, if not impossible for the residents of the country themselves to do very much. They are repressed, they are tyrannized. They are brutalized, they are threatened and for them to be active in combating the human rights violations in their own country become almost impossible. The combat has to come from outside.

But when we are dealing with people from outside, we are faced with the problem of indifference. We face the problem people say these are foreigners. That this is far away and we know nothing about this political quarrel, we can make any sense of it. May be the people in power who are slinging the opposition are right. As a result, things get very difficult to mobilize support outside. And that support is important.

Lord Slynn is certainly an example to combat violations far away. But he was more than that, he was an accomplished figure and also an establishment figure.  He was a very successful person in England and in Europe, a respected member of the judiciary.

And normally when dealing with the establishment, we are often dealing with people who are wrapped up with their careers and wrapped up making work the systems in which they are involved. And that’s about it. It is most unusual for someone in the center to reach out to the edges, to reach out to the people in the margins and to stand side by side with them, and to reach out to people in the margins in the countries far away, when somebody does that he is an example to us all.

People who are part of the establishment everywhere, very often when we are dealing with democratic governments in the West and ask them to mobilize themselves to protest violations in far away, they tend to support judiciaries and government because they are governments, they are judiciaries themselves. And it is difficult for them to step outside the boundaries of a system in which they find themselves in helping people simply because they are victimized.  

Lord Slynn was a person who did that. A real person in that sense because my experience in dealing with western democratic establishments is that it is very difficult to get to say we oppose a foreign government, we stand for the victim and struggle to get them their remedies.

Law and justice should be together but often they are not.  Lord Slynn tried to bring them together. Principles, human rights and government should be together. Very often they are not and Lord Slynn tried to bring them together so even though I never met him I was inspired by him. And I hope others will be and I salute his example.