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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Daily Mail don't meddle in our human rights warns Jailhouselawyer

Daily Mail don't meddle in our human rights warns Jailhouselawyer

Jack Doyle writes:

'Don't meddle in our human rights'... and that's Ken Clarke lecturing EU judges!

European human rights judges should meddle less often in cases which have already been through Britain’s courts, Ken Clarke said last night.

It is the role of the judges of the European Court of Human Rights to hear cases by individuals of States or Member States alleging human rights violations by Member States. That is not meddling, rather it is Kenneth Clarke and the Daily Mail which is guilty of trying to meddle.

Generally speaking the ECtHR is not a court of first instance, and the rules require that applicants must exhaust all domestic remedies before applying for their cases to be heard by the ECtHR. The reason for this is to give Member States ample opportunity to remedy the alleged breaches of human rights before the ECtHR becomes involved. It is only when the Member States fail to remedy the alleged breaches of human rights does the ECtHR step in.

Once again, the Daily Mail refers to EU judges when this is not the case. Whilst judges at the Court of Justice of the European Union do hear cases involving elements of human rights, in this instance it is the ECtHR and not CJEU judges who Kenneth Clarke and the Daily Mail are attacking.

Jack Doyle continues: "Issuing a call for major reforms of the Strasbourg court, the Justice Secretary said it should concentrate on important cases instead of accepting ‘trivial’ ones".

I suspect that Kenneth Clarke is engaged in distraction politics because he is aware that the Interlaken process has been ongoing for a number of years and part of this process includes major reforms of the ECtHR. Part of this process also includes demanding that Member States which are failing engage in major reforms to their system. The ECtHR does not deal with trivial cases but only deals with serious cases of abuse of human rights. I suspect that Kenneth Clarke is referring to Hirst v UK (No2), the Prisoners Votes Case, as falling within his category of so-called trivial cases. It is so trivial that the UK has spent 6 years trying to wriggle off the hook.

Jack Doyle continues with his misinformation: "From next month, Britain will take the chairmanship of the Council of Europe, the court’s governing body, and ministers hope to use this to push through major reforms".

Next month the UK, not Britain, takes over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, not chairmanship of the Council of Europe. The Court is independent and neither are its governing body. Given that Europe is seeking major reforms within the UK, all this talk of going in there and pushing for reforms will be resisted by those Member States who will tell the UK to clean up its own backyard.

Jack Doyle quotes Kenneth Clarke: ‘The biggest priority for the British Government as a whole is to try and get some reform of the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg. There’s a lot of support among other member states for reform and quite a lot of support in the court itself and in the Council of Europe.’

In my view, the biggest priority for the UK is to reform its own system, and fully comply with Hirst No2. As I have already pointed out, the Interlaken process is engaged with reforms of the ECtHR. Also, and the UK is not telling the media and public the truth about this, the Interlaken process deals with sanctions against failing Member States where there is systemic failure such as in the UK, where there is a danger of the UK being declared a rogue or pariah State.

Jack Doyle continues: "Speaking before the Home Affairs Committee of MPs, Mr Clarke said the court should ‘have a proper regard for the way Parliament and the courts in independent states have addressed human rights issues themselves in the first place’".

I would contend that the Court does have a proper regard for the way Parliaments and the courts in Member States of the Council of Europe have addressed human rights issues themselves in the first place. The first problem here is that the UK has failed to address human rights issues and as a result has been found guilty by the Court. The second problem is that instead of remedying the breach of human rights and preventing further breaches of human rights the UK has done nothing except complain about being found guilty and attacks the Court for reaching the right decisions. It is not for the guilty party to decide it is not guilty when the Court has reached a final decision in a case. A dictatorship and not a democracy demands to be judge, jury and executioner.

Jack Doyle continues: "Mr Grieve insisted social policy issues such as prisoner voting were for Parliament to decide, and the ECHR was wrong to overturn its will.

He announced he will argue the Government’s case when the ECHR considers votes for prisoners next month".

Dominic Grieve is wrong to claim that convicted prisoners human right to vote under Article 3 of the First Protocol of the Convention is a social policy issue. The ECtHR was right to attack Parliament's lack of will for reform. The ECtHR has already considered the issue of votes for prisoners in the leading case of Hirst No2 which Scoppola v Italy has followed. Dominic Grieve is trying to abuse due process by seeking to overturn a final decision in one case via another case. I trust that the ECtHR gives him short measure.

If the ECtHR bows down to a Member State and allows it to continue abusing human rights unchecked what is the point of having a court of human rights in the first place?

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