The Citizens’ Jury, Reading: Discussing ‘Respect’
Why IHRC are supporting this project
IHRC’s Arzu Merali is a member of the Oversight Panel for the Citizen’s Jury in Reading. She outlines the reason for IHRC’s support for this project:
“IHRC believes it is deeply important to encourage people to seize their rights as citizens and engage with political power in a meaningful way. The citizens’ jury model is a way for the idea of government to be not only discussed but challenged by the very people in whose name government claims legitimacy. At a time when we are being constantly told by governments that we have duties and obligations to the state, this type of project is a good way to remind people and government that citizenship also means having deep and meaningful rights.”
To listen to some of the witness sessions and hear and read more about the project click here.
The University of Newcastle and BBC Radio 4’s Today programme initiated a Citizens’ Jury in Reading in September / October 2005. A jury of 20 citizens aged 14 and upwards was sleeted to interview witnesses, analyse, discuss and draw up recommendations as regards what ‘Respect’ means to them.
This debate has been initiated in the wake of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s intention to make the ‘respect agenda’ the focal point of his third term in office.
What is a Citizens’ Jury?
Though they can take very different forms from each other, a citizens’ jury generally aims to provide an opportunity for people to express an informed view on a subject according to their own principles. The jury is made up of people who are normally drawn at random from a local population.
There is no “guilty” or “not guilty” verdict, because it is an issue and not a person that is on trial. If seen to be a fair and informed process, the citizen’s jury comes to be seen as important. Decision makers and/or campaign groups take action on conclusions. The launch of the verdict attracts publicity.