Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Downgrading European Court of Human Rights

DAVID Cameron, in an effort to deal with the Ukip threat, is threatening to take Britain out of the European Court of Human Rights.   The Court has become something that the right-wing tabloids, some Conservatives, as well as Ukip deplore.  Jumping ship could be a popular position for Cameron and the Tories to adopt.But the Strasbourg-based court is not a part of the European Union and has nothing to do with the bureaucracy based in Brussels.  It was created in 1953, and was inspired by Winston Churchill, no less.  It tries to set a standard for civil liberties among 46 member states including the EU, the former Soviet block countries and Turkey.

What upset the Tories was when in 2005, the Court in Strasbourg overturned a British ban on giving prisoners the vote.  Cameron said the judgement made him feel 'physically ill'.  Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has claimed that decisions on deporting terrorists made in Strasbourg threatens security in the UK. 

Up to now rulings by the Court are binding on all member states.  If the Tories win the election in May, they will insist that Westminster is granted the right to veto any judgement it doesn't like.  Hence, a Tory government would claim a privilege to pick and choose, and if it does get this right it will leave the convention that underpins the European Court altogether.

This would open up the possibilities of other countries doing the same.  A FT editorial last Saturday says:
'Were the Council of Europe to give Britain the sweeping derogation the Conservatives seek, then other signatories, in particular Russia, would likely demand similar treatment.  This would reduce the convention to the status of a bleating wish list carrying little force.'

The Tories, like the Home Secretary Ms. May, often sneer at the European Court's insistence on the right to a family life.  But those of us who are electricians and have been campaigning for over a decade against the blacklist, know that if the national courts fail to tackle blacklisting in this country workers such as the Manchester electricians will have no alternative but to take their cases to the European Court of Human Rights.  And, the right to a family life may be one of the arguments used.

No comments: