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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Every Human Has Rights: Unless you live in the UK!

Every Human Has Rights: Unless you live in the UK!

Today Graeme Hall has a post called Roundup: Bringing rights home weekly on the UK Human Rights Blog, and it includes the following article from the Guardian.

UK will not defy European court on prisoners' votes, says Kenneth Clarke

Justice secretary says some prisoners will get right to vote even if MPs back motion calling on government to ignore court ruling

In complete contrast the Daily Mail has the following headline:

Euro judges 'will not have final say' on prisoner vote, vows Attorney General (as he hints of withdrawal from European court).

I think at the moment that the public are lucky that they did not trust the Tories enough to vote to give them full power in office, because had they done so they would lose all their human rights under the European Convention of Human Rights and instead would be fobbed off with a Bill of Responsibilities stating that the subjects in the UK will only be granted rights if the Executive decides that any particular subject has behaved responsibly. Rights based upon only displaying responsible conduct are not rights at all, they would only be privileges like those granted to convicted prisoners and which can be removed for a breach of the Prison Rules or removed for any reason at the discretion of the prison governor. The tyrant David Cameron is seeking to turn all the people of the UK into prisoners!

In my view, Kenneth Clarke is right to say prisoners will get the vote, but is wrong to say that the human right to vote should only be granted to some prisoners. He is wrong because, in effect, what he is saying is that only some prisoners are human beings. Under Article 1 of the Convention it states that everyone is a human being (and it does not exclude prisoners), and that everyone is entitled to the human rights under the Convention. Therefore, it is not down to the Executive to dehumanise people in an attempt to formulate government policy. Remember, Hitler first dehumanised the Jews to advance the policy of the Final Solution.

Dominic Grieve is wrong to claim that the European Court of Human Rights will not have the final say on prisoners votes. In Hirst v UK (No2) the ECtHR has already had the final say on the issue. The Convention is clear:

Article 44 – Final judgments

1. The judgment of the Grand Chamber shall be final

Also, Dominic Grieve is wrong to claim that the UK can withdraw from the Convention and the ECtHR's jurisdiction without effecting the UK's relationship with the European Union.

Under the Copenhagen criteria:

1. The political criterion:

The country must have stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities

According to Wikipedia the Copenhagen criteria in more detail...

Political criteria


Functional democratic governance requires that all citizens of the country should be able to participate, on an equal basis, in the political decision making at every single governing level, from local municipalities up to the highest, national, level. This also requires free elections with a secret ballot, the right to establish political parties without any hindrance from the state, fair and equal access to a free press, free trade union organisations, freedom of personal opinion, and executive powers restricted by laws and allowing free access to judges independent of the executive.

Rule of law

The rule of law implies that government authority may only be exercised in accordance with documented laws, which were adopted through an established procedure. The principle is intended to be a safeguard against arbitrary rulings in individual cases.

Human rights

Human rights are those rights which every person holds because of their quality as a human being; human rights are "inalienable" and belonging to all humans. If a right is inalienable, that means it cannot be bestowed, granted, limited, bartered away, or sold away (e.g. one cannot sell oneself into slavery). These include the right to life, the right to be prosecuted only according to the laws that are in existence at the time of the offence, the right to be free from slavery, and the right to be free from torture.

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is considered the most authoritative formulation of human rights, although it lacks the more effective enforcement mechanism of the European Convention on Human Rights. The requirement to fall in line with this formulation forced several nations that recently joined the EU to implement major changes in their legislation, public services and judiciary. Many of the changes involved the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, or removal of disparities of treatment between different political factions

It goes on to deal with minorities. In my view, prisoners are a minority group within society at large.

Since the EU acceded to the Convention under the Lisbon Treaty, there is an obligation upon Member States to the EU to abide by the Convention and ECtHR decisions. Therefore, in my view, either the UK must accept Europe lock, stock and barrel, or withdraw altogether.


First They Came - Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialist
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

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