UK Supreme Court not supreme enough for EU
As a result, in this sovereign land – with its own queen, currency and parliament, but laws made by someone else – patience with the EU is wearing thin.
When it comes to human rights, if you do not like the way your case has gone in the UK, you can take it abroad – to France. And decisions made in Strasbourg can overrule any made in the UK, even if it was ruled by the Supreme Court – the highest court in the land.
The European Court of Human Rights was set up after WWII to avoid the persecution of minorities by the state. But now it has been derailed.
“It was never anticipated that after WWII, after the Holocaust, after the terrors perpetrated by certain tyrannical governments, that the court now would be protecting the criminal and not the victim,” a member of the European Parliament Charles Tannock told RT.
Delays and controversy have dogged the European Court in Strasbourg – there is a backlog of up to eight years. And when cases are decided, judgments are often bizarre.
In 2010, the court decided to give prisoners the right to vote, after a petition by John Hirst, who has spent much of his life behind bars after killing his landlady. The UK is still refusing to implement the ruling.
Ethics aside, it could also cost a fortune.
“The last time that we looked at this, the cost of complying with judgments under the European Convention of Human Rights was about £2.1 billion a year,” says Emma Boon of the Taxpayers Alliance. That is US$3.3 billion, plus another US$2.8 billion in associated one-off costs.
In other areas, an immigration ruling means a convicted Nigerian rapist gets to stay in the UK because of his right to a family life.
And most recently, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in January that hate preacher Abu Qatada, dubbed “Osama Bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe”, cannot be deported back to Jordan. He is now due to be released on to the streets of Britain.
“This is somebody who stands up publicly and spews hatred about everything that our democracy stands for – and yet we can’t get rid of him because of the European Convention on Human Rights,” Emma Boon complains.
Sitting in Strasbourg are 47 judges, one from each signatory country. So far, so fair – except none of them were elected by the people of the countries they are making laws for.
“We’ve got a system of law and order in this country that’s worked for many, many years, with the mother of all parliaments. Why do we need Strasbourg or Brussels to tell us what we can and can’t do?” questions Jon Gaunt of the Referendum Party – a British party with dominant Euro-skeptic views. “The answer is ‘we don’t’. So I want British law for British people.”
Those who are not calling for the UK to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights altogether are demanding reforms, to stop Strasbourg making decisions on what should be sovereign issues.
“The court has to be more focused on fundamental civil and political rights not interfering in the daily lives and in the administration of the criminal justice system in the member states of the Council of Europe,” Charles Tannock explained.
Without reforms, there is a risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as nations pull out of the Human Rights Court, undermining it, leaving those in countries with weaker human rights protections entirely vulnerable.