“Respect for human rights is an essential part of any legal system. Undermining a government’s ability to keep its citizens safe is emphatically not.”
“This is not just damaging the nation’s security, but the public’s respect for the law…voters are starting to view the whole notion of human rights with contempt, since their principal use appears to be (to) protect criminals.”
Human rights laws are protecting the wrong people
‘Telegraph View’: April 24th, 2011
A legal system that protects the “rights” of people who are not citizens, and who have behaved in ways which threaten the safety of those who are, has clearly got things back to front.
Respect for human rights is an essential part of any legal system. Undermining a government’s ability to keep its citizens safe is emphatically not. But thanks to the way that the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has been interpreted by judges in Strasbourg and Britain, that is what “human rights” have become: a means of undermining public safety, not of helping to protect it.
The right to family life, for example, is now routinely used to prevent the Government from deporting dangerous criminals, including terrorists: last year, 200 foreign convicts avoided deportation by citing it. This is an absurd state of affairs. The first priority of any state is to protect its citizens. A legal system that subordinates that goal to protecting the “rights” of people who are not citizens, and who have behaved in ways which threaten the safety of those who are, has clearly got things back to front. But that is the situation in Britain today.
This is not just damaging the nation’s security, but the public’s respect for the law. That is why we are launching a campaign to persuade the Government to stop “human rights” being used to prevent the deportation of foreign criminals. The right to family life is indeed enshrined in Article 8 of the ECHR. But it is not an absolute right: the convention states that it can be compromised in order “to prevent disorder or crime”. Unfortunately, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has turned it into something that must be respected, regardless of whether doing so will damage national security or endanger the law-abiding. And our own judges have not only followed this interpretation, but expanded it still further. They may have hoped that by doing so, they would reinforce the importance of protecting human rights in the public mind. In fact, the opposite is true: voters are starting to view the whole notion of human rights with contempt, since their principal use appears to be protect criminals.
This is a dangerous development, and one that can only be reversed by reintroducing common sense to the judges’ interpretation of these rights, and especially to the right to family life. It would not be difficult to achieve: it could be done by passing primary legislation in Parliament. Strasbourg might disagree, but in practice, it has no power to enforce its will. True, Britain could, in theory, be expelled from the Council of Europe – but this is not a threat that needs to worry anyone. Italy, Turkey, Russia, and Poland regularly ignore Strasbourg’s rulings. Even Germany and France have been known to do so. And what has been the effect? Nothing at all.
It is an essential part of good government that the actions of the state should be reviewed and restrained by an independent judiciary. But judges are not, and should not be, law-makers. Since the incorporation of the ECHR into British law, there has been an increased tendency for them to overlook this fact. It is essential for the future of our country that the right balance between democratic government and an independent judiciary be achieved. The best way to start is for Parliament to reassert its authority, and put the proper limits on the right to family life – which is why we shall campaign for it until it is achieved.
See original here.
See also “Chilling effect of Euro judges: Public safety being put at risk by human rights court, warns top Lib Dem lawyer” here.