“In recent years judges have started to question whether decisions in sharia courts are in accordance with the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Act… In 2008 the House of Lords ruled in a child custody case that the sharia rules were “arbitrary and discriminatory”.
Why the deafening silence from the “women’s lib” types on this issue? That has got to be one of the great mysteries of modern times… JG.
Plans to curb influence of sharia courts to be unveiled
Christopher Hope: June 8th, 2011
The plans come amid increasing concern about the use of sharia courts to adjudicate on family law and criminal matters.
Baroness Cox, a cross bench peer, will publish legislation which campaigners hope will tackle the increasing use Islamic law to settle disputes in Muslim communities.
Lady Cox, who was made a working peer by Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister, is concerned about the discrimination suffered by Muslim women in decisions made by the courts.
Last night she was unavailable to comment ahead of the publication of the Bill, which is said to contain “practical solutions” to the problems.
The new Private Members’ Bill, which is being supported by secular groups and an Iranian and Kurdish women’s rights group, will require Government support to have any chance of becoming law.
Sharia is a set of principles which govern the way many Muslims believe they should live their life.
Two years ago, a report from think-tank Civitas estimated there were 85 sharia courts operating in Britain, 17 times higher than previously thought.
Lady Cox’s plans are thought to draw heavily on the Civitas report.
Rulings under sharia are enforced through the 1996 Arbitration Act, which states that any form of agreement can be used as both parties agree to adhere its decision.
But Civitas found that their decisions are likely to be unfair to women and backed by intimidation. The report’s authors found that sharia rulings transgress human rights standards as applied by British courts.
Last night David Green, a director at Civitas, told The Daily Telegraph that part of the problem was that women “did not have any legal voice in adjudications” by sharia courts.
Allowing some parts of society to abide by sharia law “does not mean we should turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of one area of society”, he said.
The spread of sharia law has become controversial since Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said in a speech in 2008 that a recognised role for sharia law seemed “unavoidable”.
Lord Phillips, the current president of the Supreme Court and the then-Lord Chief Justice, then said that there was no reason why decisions made on sharia principles should not be recognised by the national courts.
In recent years judges have started to question whether decisions in sharia courts are in accordance with the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Act.
In 2008 the House of Lords ruled in a child custody case that the sharia rules were “arbitrary and discriminatory”.
A 2003 judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg also said it was “difficult to declare one’s respect for democracy and human rights while at the same time supporting a regime based on sharia”.
See original here.