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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Parliament abuses prisoners like the Nazi regime abused Jews, etc

Parliament abuses prisoners like the Nazi regime abused Jews, etc

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe (French: Conseil de l'Europe) is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation. It was founded in 1949, has 47 member states with some 800 million citizens, and is an entirely separate body from the European Union (EU), which has only 27 member states. Unlike the EU, the Council of Europe cannot make binding laws. The two do however share certain symbols such as the flag of Europe. The Council of Europe has nothing to do with either the Council of the European Union or the European Council, which are both EU bodies.

The best known bodies of the Council of Europe are the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights, and the European Pharmacopoeia Commission, which sets the quality standards for pharmaceutical products in Europe. The Council of Europe's work has resulted in standards, charters and conventions to facilitate cooperation between European countries.

Its statutory institutions are the Committee of Ministers comprising the foreign ministers of each member state, the Parliamentary Assembly composed of MPs from the Parliament of each member state, and the Secretary General heading the secretariat of the Council of Europe. The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe, mandated to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in the member states.

The headquarters of the Council of Europe are in Strasbourg, France, with English and French as its two official languages. The Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress also use German, Italian, and Russian for some of their work.

The role of the ECtHR is not to enforce the ECHR, rather it rules on whether a case brought by an individual against a Member State of the Council of Europe or Member State against another Member State discloses a violation of the Convention. It maybe a weakness of the Court that it has no effective enforcement mechanism once a judgment has been reached.

Article 46 – Binding force and execution of judgments

1. The High Contracting Parties undertake to abide by the final judgment of the Court in any case to which they are parties.
2. The final judgment of the Court shall be transmitted to the Committee of Ministers, which shall supervise its execution.

Notwithstanding that the UK has given an undertaking to abide by the final judgment in Hirst v UK (No2), the position is that the UK has ignored the final judgment for 6 years and has therefore renaged on its undertaking. In other words, the UK is guilty of saying one thing and doing the complete opposite.

The final judgment of the Court in Hirst v UK (No2) was transmitted to to the CoM, however, it would appear that it has failed to effectively supervise its execution. If the CoM had effectively supervised execution of Hirst v UK (No2) then all convicted prisoners in the UK eligible to do so would have the vote. This maybe discloses a weakness with the CoM in that its effectiveness is only as good as full compliance by a Member State. When a Member State such as the UK decides not to fully comply with a final judgment of the Court, the net effect is that the human rights violations identified by the Court continues unabated. It also means that the CoM by aiding and abetting the continued human rights abuse is as guilty as the Member State. The enforcement mechanism is too weak to be effective in protecting human rights guaranteed under the Convention.

The Council of Europe is aware of the weaknesses I have highlighted above. The Interlaken process is meant to address these weaknesses.

Effective implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights: the Interlaken process

Doc. 12221
27 April 2010

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights welcomes the declaration and action plan which emerged from February’s high-level conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights in Interlaken, especially its recognition of the basic principle that human rights must be guaranteed first and foremost at national level. Convention rights need to be better implemented nationally, states with major structural problems which give rise to repeated breaches of the Convention must deal with these more effectively, and Court judgments should be swiftly and fully executed.

In the UK for human rights to be guaranteed at national level it requires a document like a written constitution stating what these human rights consist of, and the means of enforcing them. It is said that in the UK we do not have a written constitution. Instead we have the Human Rights Act 1998.

According to Alex Bailin QC, Matrix Chambers, at the ALBA 8th Annual Human Rights Act Seminar, 5 Oct 2010:

“The worst example of the dialogue is probably the response to the ECtHR GC decision in Hirst v UK (No.2) (2006) 42 EHRR 41 which held that the blanket ban on prisoners’ voting is disproportionate. Until last month (when the Deputy PM announced that the government will reconsider the ban, after the Council of Europe had given the UK a 3-month ultimatum), the government had effectively ignored the ECtHR ruling for over 5 years. If that state of affairs reigned supreme then the HRA would be, frankly, toothless”

That's a weakness in the ECtHR, CoM, and now a weakness in the UK's national legislation. In spite of the HRA human rights are not guaranteed first and foremost at national level. This weakness first and foremost is the fault of Parliament. Secondly it is the fault of the Executive. Thirdly it is the fault of the Judiciary. Fourthly it is the fault of the media.

Article 13 – Right to an effective remedy

Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.

A right exists only if it can be enforced. Parliament decided not to incorporate Article 13 into the HRA. The UK signed up to the Council of Europe and the Convention but insists on retaining the right to deny human rights. Therefore the HRA is a worthless piece of paper just like a forged bank note. This is a violation of the Convention.

Article 1 – Obligation to respect human rights

The High Contracting Parties shall secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in Section I of this Convention.

Parliament decided not to incorporate Article 1 into the HRA. Therefore, it would appear to leave to the discretion of Parliament those it chooses not to recocognise as human beings. In this case it is convicted prisoners. Parliament has sought to dehumanise convicted prisoners. In so doing it can abuse convicted prisoners in the manner of the Nazi regime persecuting Jews, etc.

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