Archive for the ‘British Government & ECHR’ Category

In defence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)

Dimanche, mars 4th, 2012

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has been widely attacked by British politicians of all parties as well as in the British media and is currently under pressure from the British government to reform, not helped by its most recent ruling in favour of the suspected terrorist Abu Qatada for which it was openly criticised in a recent debate in the House of Commons.
However, the Justice Secretary Kenneth Clark has said that Abu Qatada will be released because he is not accused of a crime in Britain and the decision has nothing to do with the ECHR. This is because a British judge has now ordered the release of Abu Qatada on the basis of how long he has been held without charge, making it difficult to argue a case for his deportation. His comments followed the ECHR ruling that Abu Qatada could not be deported to his native Jordan to face trial on terrorism charges because evidence to be used against him was obtained by torture. The Justice Secretary added that the British newspapers that attack the ECHR, attack the ECHR all the time when actually the judgment to which they are objecting (i.e. to release Abu Qatada) was by a British judge.
Writing in the expat weekly telegraph of February 15 – 21, 2012 (The Rule of Law is Diminished by Furore over Abu Qatada), Peter Osborne also thought it time that the case was heard for the defence of the ECHR, its decision in the Abu Qatada case having even been attacked as an outrageous assault on British sovereignty. He took issue with the Strasbourg Court having been accused of being an alien institution, hostile to British history, law, freedom and our national identity. The Commons debate of the previous week he described as a day of shame for Parliament, once famed as the cockpit of freedom and justice. MPs were reduced to combining to demand that Britain flout the ECHR.
Mr Osborne reminded us that there is no institution more British than the ECHR, inspired by Sir Winston Churchill, eager in the aftermath of the Second World War and the Holocaust to export the British system of fairness and decency. He, therefore, ensured that its founding document was drafted by a British politician, David Maxwell Fyfe, later to become a Conservative Lord Chancellor. Every single one of the great ideas that were embodied in the European Convention – freedom from torture, restraint on the power of the state, freedom under law – was an ancient British principle transferred on to the European stage.
It is also more than 60 years since Churchill made his famous Iron Curtain speech in Fulton, Missouri, in which he defended the Western tradition of the rule of law. He said that we must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which……through Magna Carta, the Bill of rights, habeas corpus, trial by jury and the English Common Law, find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.
Peter Osborne concluded that we should instead be proud that the ECHR, an institution so profoundly British in its inspiration, has refused to send an Arab, Islamic fundamentalist (however terrible his alleged crimes) to Jordan, where he might be tortured or sent to jail on the basis of evidence obtained from a torture victim.

The British Government & the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)

Vendredi, décembre 30th, 2011

Britain currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the 47 member-state European Council, which oversees the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). It is using this position, in alliance with Switzerland, to put pressure on the ECHR, which is based in Strasbourg but is not a court of the European Union, to either reform or jeopardise public and political support for the European Convention on Human Rights it oversees.
The British government is already upset by the ECHR ruling that the UK should allow all prisoners to vote and its overturning of some British immigration rulings. Even in the on-going Harry Shindler versus the British government, Expatriate Voting Rights claim in the ECHR, the government has also pointed out to the Court that the Right to Universal Suffrage does not yet form part of the European Electoral heritage (which ironically enough can be traced back to a previous British government negotiation).
Currently the ECHR has a backlog of over 150,000 cases to hear and appealing a case to the Court can delay final judgement by two years or more. Therefore, one option being considered is to put a time limit on cases in order to reduce the number pending appeal, as the longer running ones pass this limit and then expire. This could then open the way for new rules including say a filter system to reduce the number of cases and allow the Court to concentrate instead on more major issues such as Freedom & Torture but not comparatively minor compensation claims, according to Kenneth Clark, the British government Justice Secretary.
Given the above, it seems perverse that the British government is contesting the Harry Shindler Expatriate Voting Rights case in the ECHR, on a major and self-evidently democratic issue such as the Right to Universal Suffrage within the European electoral heritage.