Site Meter

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Government must not back down over votes for prisoners

The Government must not back down over votes for prisoners

By Harry Phibbs
Last updated at 3:23 PM on 13th April 2011

The European Court of Human Rights will start ordering compensation payments of an estimated £150million to convicted killers, rapists and thugs unless the British Government gives prisoners the vote

The British Government appear to be on a collision course with the European Court of Human Rights over the issue of granting votes to prisoners.

The Court has insisted that the legislation be brought in within six months or they will start ordering compensation payments of an estimated £150million to convicted killers, rapists and thugs.

Such is the presumptuousness of this self-styled 'Court' that they even want to dictate the timetabling of the legislation.

So what will the Government do? A spokesman said: 'We are disappointed with the decision not to reconsider the judgement. We will consider the next steps.'

Even if they decide to proceed with the legislation for it to become law it will need a majority in the House of Commons. Even if the MPs were whipped I just don't see it happening. The feeling against it is just too strong.

That means the nuclear option, of the UK withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights, starts to look not merely possible but inevitable. Some will tut that such a move would damage our reputation. That other countries would perceive it as indicated we were deficient in safeguarding civil liberties. But that is nonsense.

Everybody knows these international bodies pontificating about human rights lack credibility. The United Nations Human Rights Council has Cuba among its members.

Libya was only suspended last month. If a country includes the word 'democratic' in its title that is usually a pretty good clue that it is a gruesome dictatorship. The Soviet Constitution included the most wonderful promises of freedom of expression.

So far as the European Court is concerned, it has nine judges that come from countries which are categorised in the annual Freedom House rankings either as 'not free' (Azerbaijan and Russia) or only 'partly free' (such as Armenia and Moldova).

What a nerve; why are appointees from these countries allowed to start ordering us around? We also have tiny places like San Marino and Andorra appointing judges - even though they don't have fully developed legal systems.

Furthermore, it is not a proper court at all. Some of its 'judges' are not lawyers but politicians - or former politicians who have dispensed with the need to be elected.

Those on the Court who are lawyers are poorly qualifies compared to the British judiciary. We may have signed up the European Convention of Human Rights in good faith but we have seen the meaning of its words stretched to breaking point.

What will the Lib Dems feel if the Government does something as 'right wing' as to ditch this hypocritical farce? They should have at least some regard for public opinion.

In February, the think tank Policy Exchange proposed that the 'UK should consider withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and establishing the Supreme Court in London as the final appellate court for human rights law.

In that case, the UK would continue to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into its domestic law.' They commissioned a poll which found that 66 per cent said ultimate authority on human rights should be with the UK Supreme Court, with just 19 per cent saying it should stay with Strasbourg.

In fact, the main problem in the Cabinet is not likely to come from the Lib Dems but the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. He combines being soft on crime and contemptuous of national sovereignty. There would be the risk of his resignation. So be it. He has become an increasing source of embarrassment anyway. This is not a battle the Government can afford to lose.

Comment: "The Government must not back down over votes for prisoners". The Government did not back down and rose to meet my challenge in the ECtHR and lost out before the Chamber and on appeal to the Grand Chamber.

Whatever it may appear to the ignorant Harry Phibbs the British Government are not on a collision course with the ECtHR. The Court has already issued its judgment. If anything, the issue now rests with the Committee of Ministers within the Council of Europe.

Whilst it is true that the Court has directed that the UK has 6 months to bring in legislation to make domestic law compatible with the Convention, the Court has not insisted it will start awarding compensation for non-compliance. It may well start awarding damages. However, it is untruthful of Harry Phibbs to claim that the Court has insisted upon something which is not the case.

And, why shouldn't the Court dictate a timetable? Under the Convention there is a provision for complying within a 6 month period. When the UK was left to its own devices it simply decided to do nothing for over 5 years!

What a shame that the Daily Mail allowed itself to be fobbed off with this non-response from the Government! "We will consider the next steps". In 2004 the UK did not have a Plan B. In 2011 the UK still has not got a Plan B!

According to the misinformed Harry Phibbs: "Even if they decide to proceed with the legislation for it to become law it will need a majority in the House of Commons". This is not necessarily the case. For example, Kenneth Clarke can make a remedial order to amend s.3 of ROPA 1983 by way of s.10 of the HRA 1998 and simply lay it before Parliament and the MPs cannot do a damn thing about it except lump it!

Of course withdrawing from the Convention would damage what little is left of the UK's reputation abroad.

Harry Phibbs is blind not to see that it is the UK which lacks credibility. To make an obligation to be honour bound by the Convention and Court decisions and then to dishonourably ignore them means that what the UK says in relation to treaties, etc, cannot be trusted.

Harry Phibbs would be no loss if he went and stuck his stupid head in a gas oven!

No comments: