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Equal Rights And Justice For All

by The Four Fathers

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A passionate defence of habeas corpus — which is supposed to protect all of us from arbitrary imprisonment — ‘Equal Rights And Justice For All’, set to an insistent and infectious roots reggae groove, was inspired by lead singer Andy Worthington’s work trying to get the prison at Guantánamo Bay closed down, and also by the 800th anniversary of King John signing Magna Carta in 2015. The key element of this document, which the barons obliged him to sign, was habeas corpus, the right to be brought before a judge to test the validity of one’s imprisonment. Over the centuries that followed, habeas corpus ended up applying to everyone (not just the barons), and was successfully exported around the world as a hugely significant bulwark against tyranny.
After 9/11, of course, the United States introduced imprisonment without charge or trial for the men it held at Guantánamo — and elsewhere in the “war on terror” — thereby undermining habeas corpus. Prisoners ought to have had habeas rights, unless they were held according to the Geneva Conventions, but post-9/11 prisoners of the "war on terror" were, shockingly, held without any rights at all. In 2008, the Supreme Court finally granted them constitutionally guaranteed habeas corpus rights, but these rights were then gutted of all meaning in a number of nakedly ideological rulings made by the court of appeals in Washington, D.C.
In addition, in the UK, the Blair government, after 9/11, held foreign “terror suspects” without charge or trial, in maximum-security prisons or under a form of house arrest, on the basis of secret evidence that they were forbidden from seeing, and also held some UK citizens under house arrest on the same basis.
For the gutting of habeas corpus in Guantánamo, see:
For the use of secret evidence in the UK, see: justice.org.uk/secret-evidence/
Also see this article Andy wrote about the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, and how it was hijacked by the Tory government under David Cameron: www.andyworthington.co.uk/2015/06/15/800-years-of-magna-carta-the-stench-of-hypocrisy-regarding-habeas-corpus-for-shaker-aamer-and-other-guantanamo-prisoners/


Equal Rights and Justice For All (Andy Worthington)

Once upon a time we had no protection
From every tyrant with an axe to grind
They could throw us in a dungeon
And we could only hope they'd change their mind

Then 800 years ago in England
The barons changed the rules of the game
They made King John introduce habeas corpus
And tyranny would never be the same


And that's why we're calling for
Equal rights and justice for all (x2)

But since the start of the "war on terror"
The rules have changed, our leaders have said
Some have been subjected to rendition and torture
And some have ended up extra-judicially dead

And for the prisoners at Guantánamo
Not held as PoWs or charged with a crime
The court of appeals shut down the litigation
After the Supreme Court ruled they had habeas rights

Chorus (repeat)

Guantánamo found an echo in England
In the arbitrary detention of terror suspects
Held in maximum-security prisons
Or under a form of house arrest

Held on the basis of secret evidence
That is only discussed in a secret court
They never get to hear the allegations against them
But we claim to respect the rule of law

Chorus (repeat)


Andy Worthington (lead vocals, guitar)
Richard Clare (guitar, backing vocals)
Bren Horstead (drums and percussion)
Andrew Fifield (flute and harmonica)
Louis Sills-Clare (bass)


released September 26, 2017
Written by Andy Worthington.
Recorded at Perry Vale Studios with Pat Collier, July 2016.


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The Four Fathers London, UK

Militant, melodic rock & roots reggae band, based in SE London, mostly playing original protest music. Journalist and activist Andy Worthington (lead vocals, electro-acoustic guitar), Richard Clare (electric guitar, vocals), Bren Horstead (drums, percussion), Andrew Fifield (flute, harmonica), Paul Rooke (bass). ... more

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