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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Joshua Rozenberg is being economical with the truth

Joshua Rozenberg is being economical with the truth

Joshua Rozenberg writes

Ken Clarke is right – the European court of human rights needs reform

The justice secretary believes member states, not Strasbourg, should take responsibility for compliance with the convention

It's an attention grabbing headline and subheading, but do they stand up to close scrutiny?

True the ECtHR needs reform and it is a proess which has been ongoing for a number of years. One of the problems faced by the Court is the amount of repetitive or clone cases. These occur when Member States fail to honour their obligtions to abide by the Convention and fully comply with the Court's decisions. For example, because the UK has chosen to ignore Hirst v UK (No2), the Prisoners Votes Case, there are now over 3,500 clone cases by prisoners lodged with the Court. The Interlaken process is about not only reform of the Court, but also about the need for reform in Member States and sanctions against rogue or pariah States.

It is a bit rich for Kenneth Clarke to state that Member States should take responsibility for compliance with the Convention, when he, as the Minister responsible for ensuring all citizens get their human rights under the Convention, is failing to act responsibly himself. The truth is that the UK has proved to be untrustworthy in guaranteeing human rights, therefore there is a need for oversight from outside of the UK to provide the necessary balance and checks absent with our system of a fusion of powers. Strasbourg acts as a warning beacon against Member States becoming authoritarian or totalitarian regimes. Twice the Council of Europe has criticised David Cameron for behaving like a tyrant and comparing him to a Greek Colonel and President of Belarus.

The ECtHR is a court of last resort. The rules state that applicants must first exhaust all domestic remedies before lodging applications with Strasbourg. Therefore it beggars belief that the UK Bill of Rights Commission is labouring under the belief that the ECtHR is a port of first call. However, when as with the UK failing to provide an effective remedy in the Prisoners Votes Case it is pointless prisoners taking their cases to the domestic courts first. The UK is not taking its responsibilities seriously. A judge recently pointed out to me that in Nazi Germany there was a Ministry of Justice. Kenneth Clarke is making a mockery of justice.

Joshua Rozenberg, as the saying goes, is being economical with the truth. That is not to say that he is lying. I am sure he is familiar with the saying, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I am reminded of Easter Eggs and the large packaging seeking to mask the small content.

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