The European Court of Human Rights and the UK

If you ask any politician for their opinion on the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights, you are likely to see eyebrows rise and hear air being sucked over the teeth – the fact is that this international court is definitely not popular in the UK at the moment! Most main political parties are agreed that the European Court of Human Rights is actually proving to be detrimental to the security of the British public, and it seems apparent that our commitment to such international law needs to be considered very seriously in the future.

The prime minister, David Cameron, is seriously aggrieved with some of the decisions that have been coming out of the European Court of Human Rights lately – especially when onerous decisions are being reached over dangerous criminals who are known to be connected with terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the British Government are prevented from deporting them back to their original country of birth. This is even when assurances have been given by that country’s administration that no harm will come to that individual and evidence obtained through torture would not be used in a court of law.

The knock-on effect of this decision is the fact that the British taxpayers are forced to continue paying for a criminal who is thought to want to cause serious damage and injury to the citizens of this nation. Obviously, it must be stressed that it was a huge blunder by the UK Border Agency to actually admit such a dangerous extremist into our country in the first place, but alas, it is becoming transparently clear that such massive errors are far more commonplace than we would ever dare to imagine.

David Cameron believes that the European Court of Human Rights were wrong to come up with the decision they did over a particular extremist. He fervently believes that reforms of this international law are well overdue, especially when you consider the fact that the scope of this law’s reach has now increased exponentially since it was first ratified by the original Western European countries.

Many people feel, however, that the United Kingdom should have assurances in place that we will ignore a ruling by this international court if and when it presents such a significant threat to the nation and citizens of the country. It is all very well pursuing the ideologies of the human rights law that was conceived in the wake of World War II, but things have changed since then, and in many ways, the contemporary world in which we now live is actually much more dangerous than it was around 60 years ago.

We have sought derogations from certain aspects of EC law in the past, and it would now seem imperative for us to do the same when it comes to such potentially threatening decisions from the European Court of Human Rights. Yes, we have an unquestionable duty to protect the human rights of every citizen of this country, and this is where the UK actually boasts one of the best reputations for this issue in the whole world. However, where national security is even slightly compromised, the Government must take the decision to do what is in the best interests of the country, and if this goes against a ruling from a court that is based in another country, so be it!

The simple fact of the matter is that the European Court of Human Rights is now busier than they have ever been. They now have no less than 47 countries signed up to the provisions of international law which are protected through the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and they have admitted that they have had to change administrative procedures in order to be able to cope with their workload. This is another area that the British Government is not happy with, and it fills them with even more fear of the possibilities for adverse and arbitrary decisions transpiring in the future.

Things cannot and will not continue along the same lines between the UK and the European Court of Human Rights in the future. It will be interesting to see to what extent we are to move forward: it is highly unlikely that the UK would be keen to pull out of the provisions of the ECHR, but will we be left with any other alternatives in the future if this court continues to threaten our country’s security and provides a less effective service overall?