Welcome to Cutting Edge. Guests can see and read the contents of most of the boards on this forum but need to become members to read all of them. Currently membership is instant, but new accounts may be deleted if not activated within fourteen days.

If you decide to join the forum, please open your welcome message for further details. New members are requested to introduce themselves on the appropriate thread on our welcome board.

Members may post messages and start threads, but it is essential that they read our posting rules and advice before doing so. If you have any immediate questions or queries, please post them on the suggestions board.

After posting at least ten messages, members are able to contact each other and the staff through our personal messaging system.

This forum is administrated by Ivan and moonbeam and moderated by boatlady and astradt1.

Thank you for visiting Cutting Edge.

Why do we need human rights anyway?

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by TriMonk3y on Wed May 13, 2015 7:35 am

Aiming to start looking forward and provoke some debate about some of the regressive policy heading our way over the next few months...

I originally published this article elsewhere earlier in the week.

Challenging road ahead for Tories on Human Rights Act Repeal
Repeal and replacement of the Human Rights Act is both regressive and complex

The battles lines have been drawn on Human Rights by the Conservative Party for some time. Undoubtedly the legislation would have been repealed by the previous government but for an unusually principled defence by the Liberal Democrats in coalition.

It is worth considering from the outset what the Human Rights Act is and does. The Act requires public bodies in the UK to comply with selected sections of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the courts to read legislation in accordance with those rights or declare them incompatible. Feel free to have a read of the legislation yourself here. Nothing beyond the pale so far.

Perhaps then Conservative objections lie in the Convention rights themselves. Lets take a look at those rights:

Contrary to what is being reported elsewhere the Act does not even commit the entire Convention into UK Law, simply Articles 2 - 12 and 14 of the Convention and 1-3 of the First Protocol and the 13th Protocol as shown here. These rights cover:

life
torture
servitude
liberty and security
fair trial
retroactivity
privacy
conscience and religion
expression
association
marriage
discrimination
property
education
elections
absence of death penalty

So again, up to this point there is nothing particularly insidious about any of these rights (and freedoms from), why do the Tories want to take them away from you?

The answer is really quite simple - they keep getting caught out breaking them. I'll outline briefly where this has occurred. There is nothing particularly wrong with the actions the Government was attempting to take, other than its' failure to follow its own processes and procedures for doing so.

The most high profile cases in this are are the questions around prisoner voting rights, and problems deporting foreign national criminals from the UK following their releases from sentence.

With Prisoner Voting rights the UK has been told that a complete ban is contrary to the convention and successive governments have refused to deal with the matter by, for example, preventing only prisoners with longer sentences from voting.

There have been several failed deportation cases, many of which have occurred simply because the Government has failed to follow its own processes. There is some data on the subject published here by the Home Office. Take the terrible example of the Aso Mohammed case where the defendant had been released for 7 years before anyone attempted to deport him. It is clear that had this been tried on his release, he would have been deported. As citizens we are compelled to comply with the law. Importantly the government must too - that is a fundamental to our constitutional principle of rule of law.

None of this pretends there is not a problem, it's just that the problem is not one of law, but one largely of government incompetence.

The key point is that the purpose of the Act and the Convention rights it introduces is to hold the Government to its international commitments on human rights. A separate Bill of Rights as proposed will only be of advantage to any government if it reduces your rights, or the burden upon itself to demonstrate that it has complied with those rights. The government is eroding your rights against it, and expecting you to believe thats a good thing - you're being sold a mouldy sandwich.

The complexity of the matter becomes clear when you consider the relationship that the UK has with its devolved administrations, and with Europe.

On the domestic level the devolved administrations are required to comply with Convention rights. In the case of the Scotland Act this works by channelling in the Convention rights through the Human Rights Act. This is not an unsurmountable obstacle, but it should be clear that large sections of domestic legislation will need to be amended to facilitate a repeal, and in the case of the Scotland Act this would require a legislative consent motion which will be incredibly difficult to extract.

The final point is that the UK can repeal the Human Rights Act, but that will not remove its obligation to comply with the Convention. Only withdrawal from the Convention itself achieves that, and so a repeal of the Act without withdrawing from the convention simply moves the problem from British Courts to a European one. Hardly likely to fulfil the extreme sovereignty agenda of this right wing government.

This is compounded by the UK's membership of the European Union and thereby that organisation's Fundamental Charter on Human Rights which contains a similar list of rights. The UK has no exemption from that and will need to leave the EU to avoid it. Again, this further opens up European avenues for challenge - surely retaining the Human Rights Act and settling these cases in British courts should be preferable, and more expedient?
avatar
TriMonk3y

Posts : 74
Join date : 2014-09-25
Age : 38
Location : Maella, España

http://lee-perry.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by Ivan on Wed May 13, 2015 9:51 am

The 1998 Human Rights Act has been used to hold the police to account for failing to investigate rape and human trafficking, it triggered the change in the law that prevented rape victims from being cross-examined by their attacker, and it helped to establish the right to an independent investigation for deaths in prison.

The Act required UK courts to act in ways that were compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Expensive and often lengthy court proceedings in Strasbourg were no longer always necessary. Repeal will increase the number of cases that end up there.

The myth that the Human Rights Act is somehow 'a charter for criminals' was created by Europhobes and the right-wing tabloids. It was even given credence by Theresa May at the Tory Party conference in October 2011: "We all know the stories... about the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because, and I am not making this up, he had a pet cat". Either she was making it up or she read it in ‘The Daily Mail’, as it was a pack of lies.

Fiction about the alleged abuse of the Human Rights Act is the excuse for the Tories to scrap it and give us a Tory Bill of Rights in its place. In other words, they will decide what rights we can and can’t have. All very dangerous from our elected dictatorship, but at least Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t intend to accept it for Scotland:-

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/the-scottish-government-will-try-to-stop-the-tories-repealing-the-human-rights-act-in-scotland-10245171.html
avatar
Ivan
Administrator (Correspondence & Recruitment)

Posts : 7239
Join date : 2011-10-07
Location : West Sussex, UK

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by TriMonk3y on Wed May 13, 2015 10:26 am

I agree incidentally, the title was meant to be provocative.

The principle of the rule of law is fundamental to the constitution. Not that you can read it of course. At it's base is that we are all equal before the law (including the crown), but in practical terms that too delves into how the crown conducts itself and exercises the law, stepping into matters like fair trial and thereby evidential requirements.

The HRA is fundamental to that as through the ECHR it defines the rights and freedoms of the individual against the state, and the extent of those rights and freedoms - there are limits. It essentially defines a core aspect of the constitution. Any replacement that the crown only must pay cognisance to is a huge reduction of the rights and freedom of individuals vis a vis the state. All the more reason why in most modern democracies, but not ours, there is a written constitution which is entrenched and only amendable by special procedure - often 66% of the floor.
avatar
TriMonk3y

Posts : 74
Join date : 2014-09-25
Age : 38
Location : Maella, España

http://lee-perry.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by TriMonk3y on Wed May 13, 2015 10:36 am

Oops, hadn't spotted the law and order section.

I've just been writing elsewhere about the Scottish side of the devolutionary implications having looked at section 1.2 of this research paper released Friday.

As far as I am aware Westminster has never tried to legislate where is has been unable to obtain a legislative consent motion. This is new ground - we will find out the strength of the word "normally" in the Sewell Convention - Westminster will not normally legislate without...

Secondly, an English only repeal as described in the paper would still leave Westminster based decisions open to challenge where they impact upon the rest of the UK. I suspect this government will carry on regardless , be challenged, and we'll discover the strength of the convention, but a piecemeal solution just doesn't work.

From the Smith point of view (discussed in the paper - agreement recommends need for legislative consent motion to be put on statute within the Scotland Act) I don't see how putting the convention into statute would have strengthened it in any practical way while it remains qualified by the phrase "normally".
avatar
TriMonk3y

Posts : 74
Join date : 2014-09-25
Age : 38
Location : Maella, España

http://lee-perry.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed May 13, 2015 11:31 am

They all do it.  The Blair administration was notable for a succession of attempted (and some successful) moves affecting HR.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2006/may/14/humanrights.ukcrime

Cameron is now revisiting old defeats. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1560975/David-Cameron-Scrap-the-Human-Rights-Act.html
avatar
oftenwrong
Sage

Posts : 11988
Join date : 2011-10-08

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by TriMonk3y on Wed May 13, 2015 12:27 pm

Must have my constitutional head on again today - but both examples highlight the failure in the uk constitution to secure adequate separation of powers in with the executive stepping into the judiciary.

What often gets lost is that deportation is not the punishment for a crime, simply what follows. The punishment for the crime is the sentence itself. In the UK we are guilty of conflating the two issues.

All the more reason for a properly entrenched constitution. If the flexibility of an unwritten constitution is it's greatest strength, its also our greatest vulnerability.
avatar
TriMonk3y

Posts : 74
Join date : 2014-09-25
Age : 38
Location : Maella, España

http://lee-perry.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by stuart torr on Wed May 13, 2015 7:40 pm

Now TriMonk3y and Ivan.
I am just a mere mortal when it comes to things like this,as I thought the Human Rights Act was there to prevent us from being misused and downtrodden by bosses and stop one of the main ones which was discrimination. So if you get a racist boss after/if it is repealed and we come out of europe, then there will be trouble will there not?
avatar
stuart torr
Deceased

Posts : 3187
Join date : 2013-10-10
Age : 57
Location : Nottingham. England. UK.

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by Ivan on Wed May 13, 2015 11:09 pm

The arguments against the Human Rights Act are coming. They will be false.

Extracts from an article by Keir Starmer:-

In the aftermath of the Second World War, nations came together to say “never again”. They established the United Nations and agreed a simple set of universal standards of decency for mankind to cling to: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These standards were intended to protect the individual from the state, to uphold the rights of minorities and to provide support for the vulnerable. The idea was simple; these standards would first be enshrined in regional treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and then be given legal effect in every country. In the UK this was achieved when Labour enacted the Human Rights Act (HRA) in 1998.

The Tory government now intends to strip our people of these universal rights by repealing the HRA. Michael Gove has been appointed as the new justice secretary to lead the assault. In a week when we celebrate VE Day, the irony should not be lost. British politicians, many of them Tory, participated in the drafting of the ECHR in Whitehall because they believed that they were drafting an instrument to reflect the values that we in this country took for granted and which, they thought, vindicated our military triumph.

A proposal that deprives people of their rights, divides nations abroad and divides nations at home is a grossly disproportionate reaction to one or two adverse rulings from Strasbourg. It also cuts across the basic fairness, dignity and equality that all nations committed to nearly 70 years ago.


For the whole article:-
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/13/arguments-human-rights-act-michael-gove-repeal-myth-busting
avatar
Ivan
Administrator (Correspondence & Recruitment)

Posts : 7239
Join date : 2011-10-07
Location : West Sussex, UK

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by stuart torr on Thu May 14, 2015 3:54 pm

The one set of people the Tories are doing this for/against, is that if it is repealed then they will be able to walk all over the disabled in our society,who will have nowhere to go for proper defence aganst them will they? also the victims of domestic violence, what are these Tories trying to do? they are going to take our laws back in a way nearly 30years and taking the country back in years instead of looking forward.
avatar
stuart torr
Deceased

Posts : 3187
Join date : 2013-10-10
Age : 57
Location : Nottingham. England. UK.

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu May 14, 2015 7:44 pm

There is a novel whose title was simply the number of a year in the third quarter of the 20th. Century.

Its author was Eric Blair, writing under the name George Orwell.

It's worth reading. It's by no means out of date.
avatar
oftenwrong
Sage

Posts : 11988
Join date : 2011-10-08

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by Ivan on Thu May 14, 2015 8:02 pm

It's worth reading. It's by no means out of date.
That's true - and the same could be said for:-

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk/t797-the-ragged-trousered-philanthropists-by-robert-tressell
avatar
Ivan
Administrator (Correspondence & Recruitment)

Posts : 7239
Join date : 2011-10-07
Location : West Sussex, UK

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by Ivan on Sun May 17, 2015 1:39 pm

An extract from an article by Will Hutton:-

While writing a UK Bill of Rights to replace our international legal commitments seems easy at first sight, it opens up a constitutional, political and philosophical quagmire into which the government can only sink.

There is no legal or national interest in leaving the ECHR: the position is driven solely by prejudice and low politics. As Lord Bingham challenged, which internationally agreed human right does Britain want to drop? Second, the arguments against the European Court are bogus. It is an international, not a “foreign”, court, and a British judge sits on all British cases. Critics can identify one ruling – to allow prisoners to vote – as “silly”; even if you agree, to withdraw is a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Is Britain prepared to threaten the legitimacy and standing of a court that entrenches human liberties across Europe?

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are within their rights under the devolved settlements to remain in the ECHR, a right they will undoubtedly exercise. In England, human rights will be whatever the party controlling the Commons says they are, as in any one-party state unconstrained by the rule of law, while citizens in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will try to remain part of the European system. The constitutional and legal positions are lethally unstable. The government is also planning to deny Scottish MPs full voting rights in the Commons, inciting Scotland to leave the union. The Lords will vote against withdrawal and, in the Commons, enough Tories will want to hold the country together to abstain. Britain will not leave the ECHR.


http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/17/tory-victory-means-britain-will-not-leave-eu
avatar
Ivan
Administrator (Correspondence & Recruitment)

Posts : 7239
Join date : 2011-10-07
Location : West Sussex, UK

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by stuart torr on Sun May 17, 2015 3:48 pm

Now that sounds like the test the rest of the parties wanted in a way is it not?
firstly to see so many of the current government abstain against what there leader wants,which would be lovely to see not only for the government members abstaining,but for the human rights bill.
avatar
stuart torr
Deceased

Posts : 3187
Join date : 2013-10-10
Age : 57
Location : Nottingham. England. UK.

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by oftenwrong on Sun May 17, 2015 5:35 pm

QUOTE: "Repeal and replacement of the Human Rights Act is both regressive and complex."

.... and could lead to a military government seizing power in order to preserve the Unity of the Kingdom.

Fanciful?

Nature abhors a vacuum (Aristotle)
avatar
oftenwrong
Sage

Posts : 11988
Join date : 2011-10-08

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by Ivan on Thu May 21, 2015 9:10 am

What has the Human Rights Act done for us?

From an article by David Banks:-

Journalists do not have any special rights over and above anyone else. The freedom of expression for everyone protected by the ECHR and HRA underpins everything we do – whether it is investigating a corrupt arms dealer, or expressing an opinion about the X-Factor. The Conservative Bill of Right appears to suggest that rights will be accorded to those who behave responsibly – but who is to determine what a ‘responsible’ press will look like? It seems to me that a ‘responsible’ press might be just that bit less free.

Apart from protection of sources; openness of the courts; freedom from imprisonment without due process; protection from police snooping and the freedom that allows us to function as journalists every day – just what has the Human Rights Act ever done for us?


http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/10/what-has-human-rights-act-done-us-quite-lot-it-turns-out
avatar
Ivan
Administrator (Correspondence & Recruitment)

Posts : 7239
Join date : 2011-10-07
Location : West Sussex, UK

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by boatlady on Thu May 21, 2015 9:34 am

Actually, the whole issue to me is a bit of a no brainer - OF COURSE it is immeasurably better for us as individuals to have our human rights supported and underwritten by an international law - I don't see why there even needs to be an argument about this.

Illustrates the dark power of the right wing media and the international corporations I guess - and I'm not sure how, in a country that has just rejected a potential government that was prepared to challenge this, we can fight it.

As individuals maybe we are convinced we need the EHCR - but that's maybe a bit like individual fish being convinced that breathing air is the way forward for fishkind. It seems the zeitgeist may be against benevolent intentions towards each other and in favour of selfishness and greed. Crying or Very sad
avatar
boatlady
Administrator (Global Moderator)

Posts : 3797
Join date : 2012-08-24
Location : Norfolk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by Ivan on Fri May 22, 2015 10:50 pm

Tory wreckers out to destroy their own human rights

From an article by Nick Cohen:-

"The Conservative Party is a dangerous party. Driven by the raging cultural warriors of the right, it no longer conserves but destroys with as little thought for the consequences as a brattish public schoolboy trashing a restaurant. Its threat to repeal the Human Rights Act and pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights reveals how it has become its own negation.

The Tories propose to tamper with rights hundreds of millions of people recognise as their last defence against state power. They want rights for themselves. However, they cannot abide seeing the courts give them to groups they despise: prisoners, immigrants, gypsies and gay people. At the root of the rage on the right is a rejection of the honourable belief in equality before the law.

The HRA is written into the Scottish devolution settlement. Mess with it and nationalists would have every right to re-open the argument for independence, just as they would if the Tories take us out of the EU. It is also written into the Good Friday agreement, which ended 30 years of war in Northern Ireland. This is not a document that any person with an understanding of modern history would think of changing for a moment.

The Tories call themselves individualists but want more power for the state. They call themselves unionists but threaten the union. They call themselves democrats but land more blows on the enfeebled liberal world. They boast of their common sense and call themselves pragmatists but destroy with reckless insouciance. They are a danger to themselves and everyone who votes for them.
"

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/04/tory-wreckers-out-destroy-human-rights
avatar
Ivan
Administrator (Correspondence & Recruitment)

Posts : 7239
Join date : 2011-10-07
Location : West Sussex, UK

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by boatlady on Sat May 23, 2015 7:34 am

nothing there to quarrel with
avatar
boatlady
Administrator (Global Moderator)

Posts : 3797
Join date : 2012-08-24
Location : Norfolk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by stuart torr on Sat May 23, 2015 4:17 pm

A critical act for the Conservatives to mess with,would they not find themselves in court many times if they tried to do away with this act Ivan?
avatar
stuart torr
Deceased

Posts : 3187
Join date : 2013-10-10
Age : 57
Location : Nottingham. England. UK.

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat May 23, 2015 7:47 pm

I once wondered how many Judges vote Conservative in Elections.  Silly me!
avatar
oftenwrong
Sage

Posts : 11988
Join date : 2011-10-08

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by boatlady on Sun May 24, 2015 8:28 am

Quite a lot of them, I imagine
avatar
boatlady
Administrator (Global Moderator)

Posts : 3797
Join date : 2012-08-24
Location : Norfolk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by Ivan on Sun May 24, 2015 9:40 am

This could get interesting……  bounce

Tories at war over plan to scrap Human Rights Act

Government figure may quit in order to vote against controversial Tory plan, as Andrew Mitchell, Dominic Grieve and Damian Green warn against watering down human rights.

Cameron is also likely to face criticism from Ken Clarke, the former justice secretary, and David Davis, the former shadow home secretary.

Meanwhile, Liam Fox says that abolishing the Human Rights Act is not an argument about human rights. Is he a character that George Orwell created?  No

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/queens-speech/11626477/Tories-at-war-over-plan-to-scrap-Human-Rights-Act.html
avatar
Ivan
Administrator (Correspondence & Recruitment)

Posts : 7239
Join date : 2011-10-07
Location : West Sussex, UK

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by stuart torr on Sun May 24, 2015 5:18 pm

Multi-culturism was the name of the book was it not?
avatar
stuart torr
Deceased

Posts : 3187
Join date : 2013-10-10
Age : 57
Location : Nottingham. England. UK.

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by Ivan on Tue May 26, 2015 11:20 pm

David Cameron and Theresa May have clashed with the ECHR, but tying the hands of governments is essential for a healthy democracy

From an article by Sophie in 't Veld MEP:-

"The quality of democracies is not measured by their treatment of majorities, but that of minorities. Courts, and certainly the European Court of Human Rights, have been instrumental in establishing civil rights for certain minority groups at times when a majority of the population was not yet ready to accept them. Had we relied exclusively on popular support, we would not today have enshrined rights for women, homosexuals, ethnic and religious minorities. Nor would we have abolished the death penalty.

Politicians like David Cameron and Dutch PM Mark Rutte claim that the Strasbourg Court restricts their room for manoeuvre. Rutte has called for it to be curtailed, as it has often condemned Dutch asylum policies for violating human rights and forced the government to change course. In the UK, Theresa May has raised her profile by attacking unpopular decisions taken by the ECHR and suggesting that the UK should withdraw from the court. These criticisms are about giving freedom to the state to act without restraint.

Leaders who have called for a weakening or abolishing of human rights standards should think twice before setting such a dangerous precedent. Even democratically elected governments are capable of gross violations of human rights and the rule of law. One of the fundamental strengths of the ECHR is that it provides a permanent set of rights that are insulated from the political process. Indeed, how long would a Conservative-drafted 'British Bill of Rights' last under a Labour government?
"

For the whole article:-
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/david-cameron-and-theresa-may-have-clashed-with-the-echr-but-tying-the-hands-of-governments-is-essential-for-a-healthy-democracy-8550323.html
avatar
Ivan
Administrator (Correspondence & Recruitment)

Posts : 7239
Join date : 2011-10-07
Location : West Sussex, UK

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by boatlady on Wed May 27, 2015 10:38 am

It's a relief that there does seem to be some resistance to government plans to opt out of the ECHR - a sign that some politicians at least understand and fear the risks
avatar
boatlady
Administrator (Global Moderator)

Posts : 3797
Join date : 2012-08-24
Location : Norfolk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by Ivan on Wed Jul 01, 2015 8:16 am

This article is posted in full with the kind permission of the author, Kitty S. Jones (Twitter ID: @suejone02063672)

Watchdog that scrutinises constitutional reform is quietly abolished and Tory proposals are likely to lead to a constitutional crisis

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, which was originally established for the duration of the 2010 parliament, has been very quietly scrapped. Originally, the cross-party committee was established to scrutinise the plans of the coalition government, such as the House of Lords Reform and the Alternative Vote – many of which never made it onto the statute books.

The committee’s main role was to scrutinise proposed major constitutional changes. This undemocratic development is especially worrying given the likelihood of significant constitutional changes in the forthcoming parliament, with the referendum on membership of the European Union set to be held within the next two years. There are further plans for devolution of powers to Scotland and Wales, as well as to cities, and it is expected that these will be delivered at the same time as the government repeals the Human Rights Act, and draws up a bill of rights to replace it.

Considerable doubt exists among experts that the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog responsible for ensuring the Convention is upheld, will accept the Tories’ proposals. In fact the plans are highly unlikely to be accepted. As a result, it is quite widely believed Britain will disengage from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and undermine Europe’s’ civil liberties framework in the process. Cameron has previously pledged to withdraw from the ECHR, indicating plainly that he is indifferent to the fact that such a withdrawal would very likely spark a complex constitutional crisis in the UK.

If the Human Rights Act is repealed in its entirety, the repeal will apply to the whole of the UK. The Scotland Act gives powers to the Scottish Parliament, provided that they comply with the ECHR (among other things). This would not change with repeal of the Human Rights Act alone. However, human rights are also partially devolved (the Scottish Parliament, for example, has set up a Scottish Human Rights Commission), and so any unilateral repeal of the Human Rights Act by Westminster would violate the Sewell Convention, which outlines that the Westminster government will “not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament”. Nicola Sturgeon has stated clearly that the Scottish National Party opposes the repeal of the Human Rights Act.

And similar principles apply through the memoranda of understandings with each of the devolved legislatures in the UK. In Northern Ireland, human rights are even further devolved than in Scotland, and the Human Rights Act (HRA) is explicitly mentioned in the Good Friday Act in 1998. To repeal the HRA would violate an international treaty as the Agreement was also an accord between two sovereign states – the UK and the Irish Republic. Repealing the HRA unilaterally would put the UK in violation of the Good Friday Agreement, and its international treaty obligations to Ireland.  This would certainly damage our international reputation, as well as having consequences for the reciprocity on which the Treaty depends.

It’s quite possible that it would also be understood within Northern Ireland as a violation of both letter and the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement, signalling that the UK government was no longer committed to the Agreement. The Good Friday Agreement was subject to a referendum in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, both having to consent for the Agreement to be implemented.  The referendum enabled the Agreement to have widespread legitimacy, but importantly, because it took place in both parts of Ireland, it answered historic Republican claims to be using violence to secure the 'right to self-determination' of the Irish people. It was also necessary to changing the Irish Constitution. So a unilateral move away from UK commitments carries serious bad faith and democratic legitimacy implications, potentially with deeply problematic historical consequences.

The Conservatives have plans to reintroduce the redefining of parliamentary constituency boundaries in a way that will be advantageous to the Conservative Party. It is estimated that the planned changes will help the Tories to win up to 20 extra seats at a future election. It was during the last term that the proposals were originally put forward. Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs were joined by those of smaller parties – including the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the DUP, the Greens and Respect – to defeat the proposals, giving them a majority in voting down the Tory plans for boundary changes.

The Tories are committed to implementing a form of 'English votes for English laws' – a move which will further undermine ties within the UK. But this pre-election pledge placed an emphasis upon English voting rights to undermine the nationalist appeal of UKIP south of the border, whilst spotlighting the constitution to bolster the Scottish National Party in Scotland, again using nationalism tactically to disadvantage the Labour Party.

At a time when the government is planning potentially turbulent constitutional changes in this parliament, the move to abolish the watchdog – the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee – will serve to insulate the Tories from democratic accountability and scrutiny. The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee had instigated an inquiry in 2013 regarding increasingly inconsistent standards in the quality of legislation, which resulted in several key recommendations, one of which was the development of a Code of Legislative Standards, and another was the creation of a Legislative Standards Committee.

The government response was little more than an extravagant linguistic exercise in avoiding accountability, transparency and scrutiny. Having waded through the wordy Etonian etiquette of paragraph after paragraph in the formal responses to each recommendation, the meaning of each may be translated easily enough into just one word: no. For example: “A bill when it is published is the collectively agreed view of the whole government on how it wishes to proceed. The process by which it has arrived at that view is a matter for the government, not for Parliament.” And: “The government does not believe that a Code of Legislative Standards is necessary or would be effective in ensuring quality legislation. It is the responsibility of government to bring forward legislation of a high standard and it has comprehensive and regularly updated guidance to meet this objective. … Ultimately, it is for ministers to defend both the quality of the legislation they introduce and the supporting material provided to Parliament to aid scrutiny.”

It’s troubling that the House of Lords Constitution Committee raised concerns during the inquiry that there is currently no acceptable watertight definition of what constitutional legislation actually is. The current ad hoc process of identifying which bills to take on the floor of the House of Commons in a committee of the whole House lacks transparency: it is clear that differentiation is taking place in order to decide which bills are to be considered by a committee of the whole House, but the decision-making process is ‘unclear’. This was the very worrying response: “The government does not accept that it would be helpful to seek to define ‘constitutional’ legislation, nor that it should automatically be subject to a different standard of scrutiny. The tests suggested by Lord Norton and the list of characteristics suggested by Professor Sir John Baker are themselves subjective: whether something raises an important issue of principle, or represents a ‘substantial’ alteration to the liberties of the subject [citizen], for example, are matters more for political rather than technical judgement.”

Well no, such matters may be more for legal judgement, given the current framework of human rights and equality legislation. The idea that the law is superior to the megrims of rulers is the cornerstone of English constitutional thought as it developed over the centuries. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights both refer to ‘the Rule of Law’.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, is the historic international recognition that all human beings have fundamental rights and freedoms, and it recognises that “… it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law…” And of course there are implications for our current understanding of the word ‘democracy’.

Oh. There you have it: the government does seem to regard the liberty of citizens to be enclosed within its own doctrinal boundaries. Those Tory boundaries are entirely defined by partisan dogma and value-judgements, ad hoc justifications, all of which distinctly lack any coherence and rational expertise. Or independence and protection from state intrusion and abuse. This is a government that has taken legal aid from the poorest and most vulnerable, in a move that is contrary to the very principle of equality under the law.

The Tories have turned legal aid into an instrument of discrimination. They have tried to dismantle a vital legal protection available to the citizen – judicial review – which has been used to stop the Conservatives abusing their powers again more than once. The Tories have restricted legal aid for domestic abuse victims, welfare claimants seeking redress for wrongful state decisions, victims of medical negligence, for example.

Reflected in many Conservative proposals and actions is the clear intent on continuing to tear up British legal protections for citizens and massively bolstering the powers of the state. The hypocrisy is evident in that this is a government which claims to pride itself on its dislike for the state. But in every meaningful way, the Tories are vastly increasing state powers and intrusive authoritarian reach.



https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/watchdog-that-scrutinises-constitutional-reform-is-quietly-abolished-and-tory-proposals-are-likely-to-lead-to-constitutional-crisis/
avatar
Ivan
Administrator (Correspondence & Recruitment)

Posts : 7239
Join date : 2011-10-07
Location : West Sussex, UK

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by boatlady on Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:04 pm

She's not silly - I have to say the prospect of the future is a terrifying one when you look at the erosion of civil liberties and the social contract that has already taken place, but it is very clear this government has barely started - goodness knows what the next five years will bring.

The Tories appear to be carrying out a dangerous social and constitutional experiment, and so far their performance does not inspire confidence
avatar
boatlady
Administrator (Global Moderator)

Posts : 3797
Join date : 2012-08-24
Location : Norfolk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Jul 02, 2015 5:56 pm

That's not at all normal. Usually the levers and strings being pulled by The Establishment are carefully concealed from the public.

Is someone getting desperate?
avatar
oftenwrong
Sage

Posts : 11988
Join date : 2011-10-08

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by boatlady on Thu Jul 02, 2015 8:12 pm

Or maybe just shameless?
avatar
boatlady
Administrator (Global Moderator)

Posts : 3797
Join date : 2012-08-24
Location : Norfolk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by boatlady on Tue Sep 08, 2015 6:32 pm

Just a thought --- when was the law passed reinstating capital punishment and reversing the 'innocent until proven guilty' thing?
avatar
boatlady
Administrator (Global Moderator)

Posts : 3797
Join date : 2012-08-24
Location : Norfolk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Sep 08, 2015 7:22 pm

With any crypto-fascist administration, the veneer of civilisation can begin to delaminate from the base material underneath.

Sometimes called the Pinochet Principle when it can no longer be ignored.
avatar
oftenwrong
Sage

Posts : 11988
Join date : 2011-10-08

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by boatlady on Tue Sep 08, 2015 9:05 pm

Getting there
avatar
boatlady
Administrator (Global Moderator)

Posts : 3797
Join date : 2012-08-24
Location : Norfolk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by TriMonk3y on Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:08 am

It's an interesting question in the context Boatlady.

From a legal perspective the UK is a signatory to the ECHR in which it guarantees rights and freedoms upon those within its jurisdiction, including the right to life, and to fair trial. It has also ratified the (13th?) Protocol to the Convention prohibiting the death penalty, and embedded the core aspects of the Convention into domestic law in HRA98.

This raises several questions. Firstly, are UK citizens fighting in Syria within the UK's jurisdiction. The government will no doubt argue not, but in reality the fact that they are UK citizens, and the fact that the UK is able to reach them in this way suggests very clearly that they may be within jurisdiction. What is clear from the case law is that jurisdiction is somewhat broader than simply being in the UK.

Secondly, if we accept that the jurisdiction test is passed then the right to life is a qualified right (not withstanding the 13th protocol) which could be limited on a 3 part test - that the limitation followed a process set out in law, was necessary in a democratic society, and for one of a specified list of reasons including national security and territorial integrity. Even if arguments can be raised in respect of the last two parts of the test there is little doubt in my mind that the arbitrary nature of the instruction falls at the first hurdle - this did not follow any process set out in law.

Thirdly, in times of emergency or war article (14 I think) of the convention allows the UK to derogate from the Convention. It is necessary to consider also whether those circumstances are met, and whether the UK derogated. To my mind the UK is not at war in Syria, and parliament expressly prohibited it from being so - there was no derogation.

From a human rights perspective at least the action as taken simply cannot comply with the Convention. That's not to say that it is impossible to seek to exterminate terror suspects under the convention, but that it requires a legal process rather than the same arbitrary decision making system that led to Palmerston razing the Emperor's summer place to force opium sales. To my mind that means an evidence based decision made at a legal hearing, not the arbitrary decision of one all-powerful man. That is not how democracy is supposed to work, and it's why separation of power is so crucial to it.
avatar
TriMonk3y

Posts : 74
Join date : 2014-09-25
Age : 38
Location : Maella, España

http://lee-perry.co.uk

Back to top Go down

The British Constitution

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Sep 09, 2015 12:42 pm

TriMonk3y wrote:It's an interesting question in the context Boatlady.

.... From a human rights perspective at least .... means an evidence based decision made at a legal hearing, not the arbitrary decision of one all-powerful man. That is not how democracy is supposed to work, and it's why separation of power is so crucial to it.

If only it were so simple!  Recent commentary on Cutting Edge challenged whether Britain actually is "a Democracy".  Certainly transference of The Royal Prerogative to Parliament allowed inter alia Blair to invade Iraq and his henchman Jack Straw to legitimise American Military occupation of islands in the Indian Ocean https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Indian_Ocean_Territory at the stroke of his pen on an Order in Council. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_in_Council

Internally, the UK relies on the Judiciary to correct the occasional fatuities of Government Ministers, but these can sometimes be little more than a "turf war" in reality.

The desperate need is for Britain to have a WRITTEN constitution as the nearest thing we have to that is still the dear old (very old) Magna Carta.


Last edited by oftenwrong on Wed Sep 09, 2015 12:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
avatar
oftenwrong
Sage

Posts : 11988
Join date : 2011-10-08

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by TriMonk3y on Wed Sep 09, 2015 12:49 pm

I agree OW, and argue both points very strongly. A wholly inadequate separation of power combined with the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty and inability to entrench any rights and freedoms does make a democracy not.

Judicial corrections - interesting and correct, but only in very limited cases. For example where provided by statute such as HRA or TPIM, or where interpreting legislation in compliance with UKs international obligations.

avatar
TriMonk3y

Posts : 74
Join date : 2014-09-25
Age : 38
Location : Maella, España

http://lee-perry.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by boatlady on Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:02 pm

So --- do you think anyone will mount a legal challenge? And could such a challenge be enough to topple the government?

(And where do I send my donation to enable this to happen?)
avatar
boatlady
Administrator (Global Moderator)

Posts : 3797
Join date : 2012-08-24
Location : Norfolk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by Ivan on Thu Sep 10, 2015 10:17 pm

I have no sympathy whatsoever for British citizens who go to Iraq or Syria, support and fight for ISIS and then plot terrorist outrages in the UK. Those who live by the sword etc…. I suspect that I’m not alone in holding that opinion.

However, we have heard from this Tory government – many of whose members have been known to be very economical with the truth on occasions – that a drone killed two such Britons on 21 August. Why were they killed? We’re told that it was to stop them from launching attacks this summer on Armed Forces Day (27 June) and the VJ Day ceremony (15 August). If that makes sense to anyone, I’d be grateful if they could explain it to a simple soul like me. Apparently one of them was also 'killed' by the Americans in July…..  Rolling Eyes

Parliament voted in 2013 for non-intervention in Syria, a decision which Cameron has ignored. The death penalty was abolished in the UK in the 1960s, and anyone executed previously was at least given a trial first. On 7 September, Jeremy Corbyn said: "I have questioned the legal basis for the use of drones. Urgent consideration now needs to be given to the appropriate process by which attacks such as this one are sanctioned, on what evidence and on what basis of law”.

Questioning the legality of the recent drone strikes does not mean you support ISIS. It just means you support the rule of law. Cameron and Fallon have a lot of questions to answer on this.
avatar
Ivan
Administrator (Correspondence & Recruitment)

Posts : 7239
Join date : 2011-10-07
Location : West Sussex, UK

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by TriMonk3y on Fri Sep 11, 2015 7:20 am

I agree entirely Ivan. While arguments can be raised as to why this action should be taken, which I sympathise with, in no way can they be read compatibly with the UKs international obligations through the ECHR, or for that matter the constitutional principles of rule of law or separation of power - parliamentary supremacy does not trump the first two.

I see three avenues for challenge Boatlady. ECtHR, judicial review and civil action for damages. Will be interesting to see how this plays out, but the outcome of any of those is unlikely to be heard anytime soon.
avatar
TriMonk3y

Posts : 74
Join date : 2014-09-25
Age : 38
Location : Maella, España

http://lee-perry.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by boatlady on Fri Sep 11, 2015 3:50 pm

It's going to be like another Chilcott enquiry, isn't it?
avatar
boatlady
Administrator (Global Moderator)

Posts : 3797
Join date : 2012-08-24
Location : Norfolk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by TriMonk3y on Fri Sep 11, 2015 4:34 pm

I think that will depend on further conduct, and the wider public sentiment.
avatar
TriMonk3y

Posts : 74
Join date : 2014-09-25
Age : 38
Location : Maella, España

http://lee-perry.co.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Why do we need human rights anyway?

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum