‘Great’ Britain #1 – Plans to withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights

So, this wasn’t even going to be my first post. I have a whole list of things which I want to write about, although this has served as a great series title. I’ll put all the news articles as links at the bottom of the text. 

Human Rights. They’ve always been slippery, here in the UK. The Labour government enshrined the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) in 1998. Before this, you would have to appeal to Strasbourg if you wanted to make a defence centered around human rights. It basically meant that you didn’t have to fly out to Strasbourg if you wanted to make a defence citing human rights. And look here, it’s a list of where people in the UK have done exactly that. (It’s a PDF so be prepared to download it).

So… The Conservative party have more or less said that they intend to scrap the Human Rights act of 1998. You can argue “Oh but we can still go to Strasbourg if anything goes wrong, so it doesn’t make a difference”… Wrong. They also wish to withdraw from the ECHR. And I will tell you what their argument is for this. (Or what I can find them saying their argument for it is, anyway).

In the past, criminals from other countries have cited Article 8:

Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

This has meant that UK hasn’t been able to deport such criminals on these grounds. Now, let’s look at this. According to one of the links at the bottom, only 1200 criminals have been lined up for deportation, of these 1200, only 400 have stayed, and of those 400, just under half had used Article 8 as a defence. Just under 200 people, and that’s worth removing ourselves from all Human Right acts/conventions? It seems overboard to me. And while it may not be completely relevant; ”the UK’s duty to protect people against torture or inhuman treatment is absolute.” Article 3 says this, in broader terms; stating it as an absolute human right. This is irrespective of the persons conduct.

I don’t think people are understanding of what this could lead to. I’m more than certain it won’t, but could. What will be there to stop the UK setting up concentration camps for people? Nothing. Torture? No laws there. Institutionalised Sexism, Racism etc? Can’t stop us. Who knows, in 20 years we could rename the country to “Air Strip 1″ and have done with thoughtcrime. Yeah, this is extreme, but the point is, with no constitution of human rights enshrined in British Law, coupled with the withdrawal from the ECHR means that the government could do this. And now I’m starting to sound like some crazy conspiracy theorist, but that’s not what I’m saying here. You can argue “Oh well, nothing will change if they take it”, and I rebute… Then why take it? Most parents are knowledgable enough not to leave bleach open in front of their child, yet there is still a warning on the bottle.

The UK, which so often likes to view itself as the peak of civilisation within the world, is now arguing to remove fundamental means of civility. And the sad thing is, is that I feel cynical about whether or not the population will even try and stop this happening. I know a fair amount of people who vote conservative, and I don’t know if this would even change their minds. Who knows. I’m critical of the implementation of human rights within the world, anyway, but I would much rather have something that half works than nothing at all.

If the Conservatives get re-elected, I’m scared to stay in this country. We’re the only country in Europe which doesn’t have a constitution bill of human rights, as it is. And people seemingly don’t care. I don’t really know what else to say, now. I can’t stress anymore the importance of these two actions. I really can’t.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

I have decided to leave it there, with an excerpt from Martin Niemöller’s speech. I think this could quite easily be allegorical of Britain if it continues down this route.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21651004

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21646275

http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2013/mar/03/conservatives-human-rights

[There are plenty more, I just can’t find all the ones I was looking at. Just google Human Rights Theresa May and they will all be there.]

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