Sorry – for Human Rights Day

It’s Human Rights Day. The week before the last we had the fascinating JCWI seminar about human rights.Professor Lydia Morris made us all reflect a bit more carefully about law, rights and society.

Rights have what she referred to as both a formal and an informal dimension. The former straight forwardly refers to the relevant entitlement. The latter refers to the moral standing of an individual in society resulting from the possession of the particular right i.e. public perception. Professor Morris was speaking about this in the context of the regrettable reforms the previous Labour Government made to the scheme for asylum support.

This got us thinking about how both dimensions affect the people they concern, and what they actually think. As there’s so little about this that directly uses the voice of migrants, we thought we’d share this (below) with you on Human Rights Day. It’s one the most poignant bits of writing on this issue we’ve seen for a little while. It’s actually written by a child who came to the UK as the dependant of an asylum seeker. We don’t unfortunately have his name, age or know anything about him.  He’s written about this thoughts through the medium of poetry. Please check it out.

Sorry that we are here

That we take your time


Sorry that we breathe your air…

That we walk on your ground

That we stand in your view


Yes, sorry

Sorry that we look like we do

Sorry that we disturb your rest

You do enough for us already

Sorry that we are not grateful and happy

Not grateful enough

And that my name is not David

Or Catherine

But Rasheed Holta and Ardita

Sorry that we sit in your trains and buses

And on your benches in the sun

And that we brought nothing

And the only thing we have is a story

Not even a happy story


About jcwi

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is a key campaigning voice in the field of immigration, asylum and nationality law and policy. It is completely independent from government funding, remaining entirely free from government influence. View all posts by jcwi

2 responses to “Sorry – for Human Rights Day

  • Camille

    Such a moving poem. Would like to share it with some students and wondered if you had a reference or a source for the poem to attribute it. Many thanks. Camille.

    • jcwi

      I’m sorry we don’t have anything more than the words, Camille. No author, age of author or anything at all. But in some ways it makes it that much more poignant. Please feel free to use it.

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