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Friday, March 16, 2012

Andrew pulls no punches in forthright investigation

Andrew pulls no punches in forthright investigation

You would think our basic human rights could be pretty much taken for granted in the UK in the 21st century, but it is not as clear cut as you might expect – as revealed in this forthright, provocative and informative documentary spearheaded by the BBC's Mr Politics, Andrew Neil.

Public anger over votes for prisoners and the release of Abu Qatada showed just what a toxic issue human rights law has become. The complication lies in the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Here they vetoed the deportation of a failed asylum seeker from Kurdistan who killed 12-year-old Amy Houston in a hit and run accident because he has a "basic right" to a family life with the British wife he married after the incident, and their children. Amy's father Paul Houston was one of several interviewees who told Andrew that urgent reform is needed.

Jasvinder Sanghera from a charity which helps victims of forced marriages, campaigned to get the law changed so that people from outside Europe could not get a visa to come to the UK to marry if they were under 21. But the Supreme Court struck Jasvinder's law down.

Change is supposed to be on the cards, but with Britain only heading up the Council of Europe until May, the furthest we can get by then is a declaration of intent to change. Andrew was sceptical, offering an alternative which would mean resigning from the Convention and creating a new British Bill of Rights, updated from the core of the 1950 version penned by Sir Winston Churchill. This, however, would have a myriad complications in terms of our relationships with other member nations. We're caught between a rock and a hard place.

It was an eye-opening and thought-provoking investigation; I just wish the continuity had been better; watching Andrew's crowning glory pale from dark brown to gingery grey... and back again... was rather distracting.


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