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Monday, July 05, 2010

An English Country Garden

An English Country Garden

Council of Europe: Who we are
Human Rights... Democracy... Rule of Law

My vision of England as a wasteland compared to the vision offered by the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe in brief

Our objectives

The primary aim of the Council of Europe is to create a common democratic and legal area throughout the whole of the continent, ensuring respect for its fundamental values: human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Human Rights... Democracy... Rule of Law

These values are the foundations of a tolerant and civilised society and indispensable for European stability, economic growth and social cohesion. On the basis of these fundamental values, we try to find shared solutions to major problems such as terrorism, organised crime and corruption, cybercrime, bioethics and cloning, violence against children and women, and trafficking in human beings. Co-operation between all member states is the only way to solve the major problems facing society today.


- to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law;

- to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe's cultural identity and diversity;

- to find common solutions to the challenges facing European society;

- to consolidate democratic stability in Europe by backing political, legislative and constitutional reform


Making Europe grow

Cultivating democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law

The Council of Europe occupies a unique place in the international political landscape of Europe – the guardian of human rights, a symbol of hope, with the task of cultivating a Europe where democracy and the rule of law flourish and the mistakes of previous decades cannot easily be repeated. Its work is more important today than ever, covering almost the entire continent, in 47 member states and among 800 million citizens.

Since 1949, politicians, diplomats, lawmakers, judges and experts of many kinds have come to the Council of Europe to share their knowledge, experience and ideas and contribute to a common vision of what Europe could be – an even better place to live for all.

The first tender shoots of the European project were nurtured by the Council of Europe and over sixty years they have grown into a rich arborescence of democratic values, legal standards and protection mechanisms, rooted in vibrant co-operation between nations.

Four main treaties, embracing the protection of human rights, social and economic rights, the rights of national minorities, and protection against torture, form the main trunk of this great organic project. These core texts have fostered growth and inspired the many other Council of Europe agreements, initiatives and campaigns.

Like a gardener, tending the European garden, the Council of Europe offers advice and whatever help is needed to apply properly the standards that it develops with its member states. Seasons change and conditions evolve; governments of member states therefore accept to be bound by law and to be checked on a regular basis for
their compliance with it. More effective than any sanction, it is the mutual expectations and the collaborative effort that help the Council of Europe achieve its aims – the vision that makes Europe grow.

Protecting the roots of liberty

Human rights: the lifeblood of a civilised society

At the heart of the Council of Europe is a phenomenon that has improved the lives of millions of people in Europe. It has forever changed the way that Europeans perceive one another and their right to life, liberty, security, a fair trial, to family life and freedom of thought, conscience, religion and expression.

The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, enforced by the European Court of Human Rights, is a unique and powerful propagator of civilised values and democratic growth.

The decisions of the Court have improved the way in which European societies treat their children, homeless people, patients with mental illnesses, their prisoners and foreigners. They have encouraged countries to amend legislation, to review their court systems, or the way in which they deliver justice.

The Court is an institution which allows individuals, groups and governments to contest alleged breaches of the Convention by member states. It places the power to
challenge and change a nation’s laws and practices in the hands of its citizens, upholding and advancing human rights.

The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent body within the Council of Europe whose mandate is to ensure that human rights are respected in the member
states. The Commissioner assists with the application of human rights standards, promotes education in and awareness of human rights, and identifies possible
shortcomings in human rights law and practice.

Last week at Cherie’s Place – Thought for the Week was the subject of Gardens. And I posted comments using analogy to get my point across. Then yesterday, I find that the Council of Europe has also used a tree and garden to get its points across. My mind then conjours up the song An English Country Garden. But, in this context, it relates to the whole country as opposed to just a patch of ground within the countryside. As you may gather from the above photos, I am of the opinion that the grass is greener on the otherside.

I am more than happy to stand corrected. My criticism is that there is a difference between the theory and practice in relation to human rights law. And that this conflict means that human rights in the UK are largely illusory. This is in spite of the Human Rights Act 1998, passed by Parliament, supposedly to give subjects within the UK basic human rights. It is a shame in this day and age that we are still deemed as subjects within the UK, whereas the Council of Europe and European Union refers to people not as subjects but instead confers citizenship upon them and they are classed as citizens. Unfortunately the UK is not a republic but still a monarchy, even though Parliament has, in effect, made the Queen a puppet Head of State. And, the people are deemed to be the Queen's subjects. They are told that they have liberty, freedom, but this again is largely illusory and the trick for those wielding so-called pubic power is to maintain this perception or deception.

The problem is that it becomes harder for the authorities when people, like myself, look at what is on offer abroad and compare and contrast that with what is on offer in the UK. For example, Baroness Scotland, the former Attorney General, will say one thing to the Council of Europe, and yet the UK authorities say something else to the media, public and Parliament back at home. This is two-faced hypocrisy. A duality.

An extension of this is when I take as gospel what the UK states to the Council of Europe, the theory, and attempt to put it into practice in the UK. The Council of Europe has made rules which Member States have agreed to abide by, but the UK does not honour its obligations. The problem is, as my barrister, Flo Krause, states: "We operate in a dual system where an Act of Parliament is supreme and it is from that provision that the courts must work". It amounts to a get out clause not to guarantee human rights to those in the UK. My task is to weed this out of the English Country Garden and supplant it with the Liberty Tree of Human Rights which I intend to import from Strasbourg.

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