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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

David Davis attacks new ECHR ultimatum on votes for prisoners

David Davis attacks new ECHR ultimatum on votes for prisoners

by Paul Goodman

David Davis, who helped lead the Commons campaigns against votes for prisoners, has slammed today's bid by the European Court to force a timetable on Britain for votes for prisoners. The court this afternoon reiterated that a convicted rapist had suffered a breach of his human rights when denied the vote, and rejected an appeal by the Government against this view.

The Court gave the Ministers six months to bring forward proposals to give prisoners the vote - and ordered Ministers to do so within any timeframe handed down by the Council of Europe. Davis told ConservativeHome:

"The Court seems to have forgotten that our Parliament is the ultimate authority. It can tell Ministers to produce proposals if it likes. What it can't do is give them a timetable to do anything that Parliament won't approve. And Parliament's made it clear that it won't accept any of the proposals for votes for prisoners that have been put up to date."

The judgement by the Court's Grand Chamber relates to a case brought by Robert Greens, a convicted rapist, and upholds a decision by the Court's chamber last November. The Court today "gives the United Kingdom Government six months from 11 April 2011 – the date when Greens and M.T. has become final – to introduce legislative proposals to bring the disputed law/s in line with the Convention."

It adds that "the Government is further required to enact the relevant legislation within any time frame decided by the Committee of Ministers, the executive arm of the Council of Europe, which supervises the execution of the Court’s judgments." Greens is fighting the case with another prisoner known as "MT".

Comment: David Davis is forgetting that the Court is the ultimate authority in judging whether a Member State has violated the Convention. It is a principle of English law that justice delayed is justice denied, and the same applies with the ECtHR. Because the UK has delayed justice for over 5 years, the Court is well within its rights to give the UK 6 months to comply with the ruling. All David Davis has achieved is to make himself look very stupid by mounting a Charge of the Light Brigade.

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