Oct 05

The UK and the ECHR : shocking behaviour should not be accepted anymore

0 Flares Facebook 0 Twitter 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 0 Email -- Filament.io 0 Flares ×

Preamble for any English-speaking reader that somehow ends up on this page : this is a usually French-speaking blog whose purpose is to make law accessible to the greater number. Our articles are normally only in French, but since this one is about the United Kindom, I figured – probably wrongly – that it could be of interest for English-speakers who are having trouble with that difficult language that is French. So, behold our very first article in English ! Oh, and a word of notice : this article is mainly directed against the current Prime Minister, not the country nor its people.

It is the kind of news that goes widely unnoticed, buried beneath subjects such as the islamic threat, the Scottish referendum or the latest sports events. But in the (too) small microcosm of people who care about human rights in Europe, it has the effect of a small bomb. The government of an important member country of the Council of Europe just announced that it is intending to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), arguing that it doesn’t need instructions from judges in Strasbourg. More precisely, it would do away with the « automatic » implementation of its rulings by creating some kind of parliamentary control over which decisions would be implemented, allowing the parliament to block a decision that would be unpleasant to the country. In other words, a member country of the most important organisation on human rights in Europe threatens to pull out of collective rules and apply on an « à la carte » basis rights that are supposed to be universal.

Don’t tell me what to do

But what country, may you ask, is capable of such an outrage (or of such common sense if you’re a moron) ? Putin’s Russia, the country that suffers the most condemnations at the hands of the Court ? Erdogan’s Turkey, which often competes with Russia for first place ? Or Azerbaijan, whose president has succeeded his father and is regularly elected with more people voting for him than people who hate François Hollande in France (and that is no small feat) ?

Well, if you think that, you’re obviously wrong. We are actually talking about the country who invented the Magna Carta, who adopted the 1689 Bill of Rights a century before the French revolution, who epitomizes the concept of Habeas Corpus and whose people insist on driving on the left when no one else on the continent does it : the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, whose current sovereign distinguishes herself by her wonderful taste in clothing.

David Cameron dealing with the ECHR, by Guillaume Beck

David Cameron dealing with the ECHR, by Guillaume Beck

Indeed, the ruling Conservative Party and his leader, current Prime Minister David Cameron, has just announced that it has added the following proposals to its electoral platform :

  • replace the 1998 Human rights act which introduced in British Law the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and allows British citizens to invoke them directly before British Courts1
  • give to the British parliament the power to block a decision from the ECtHR

Anyone familiar with the current system will immediately see the inherent flaw in this second proposal. To put it simply, the Council of Europe – not to be confused with Brussels’ EU – is a classic international organisation in which every member country has the same rights and obligations. Those member countries are bound by a number of treaties which they have freely ratified, the most important of wich is the ECHR. Its application is ultimately controlled by the ECtHR in Strasbourg, which can be petitioned by any individual citizen, but only once all national remedies are exhausted : the first interpreters of the Convention are the national judges, and it can take years before a case gets to Strasbourg – if it ever gets there.

The implementation of the Court’s rulings is sometimes blocked by the States in practice. It is however clear that they have a legal obligation to implement them, pursuant to article 46 of the ECHR. The execution of the rulings is  supervised by the Committee of Ministers, the decisionary body of the Council which comprises all member States – including the condemned country which has a say in how the decision should be implemented. Implementation of a ruling that condemns a member State implies first and foremost the payment of damages to the plaintiff, and then if necessary, a legislative change. But this is only to avoid future condemnations based on the same violations : there is actually no way the Court can force such a change on a national parliament, which shows that this proposal is about politics, not law. In effect, the Tories’ plan would not give more powers to the parliament to « block » a decision than it already has. Problem is, it sends a very wrong message based on serious misconceptions of what the ECHR is all about.

To give concrete examples of the positive impact the ECtHR case law has had in the UK, one could report to cases such as the Dudgeon case2 which struck down the criminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland, the Sunday Times case3 in which an injunction not to report on the thalidomide scandal has been deemed as a violation of the freedom of the press, or more recently the Marper case4 in which the Court said that storing DNA information on people who have been acquitted or discharged was a violation of their right to privacy.

British papers, however, have chosen in recent years to put large emphasis on other, more controversial decisions, which are used by David Cameron to justify his plans. Everyone in the UK has heard about the famous Hirst case5 in which the Court has ruled that a blanket ban on prisoners’ right to vote, no matter what they did, goes against the Convention (notice that the Court has never said that all prisoners should be allowed to vote, contrary to what Mister Cameron seems to think). Extremely shocking for the governement, which has vowed never to implement this decision. Since when are criminals human beings ? Fortunately, this should all be over with the new proposal, and Britain will finely be able to treat terrorists and criminals as it pleases.

God save Britain (from Cameron)

So, how can I summarize my reaction to this conservative proposal, which is consistent with the simplistic anti-european approach that has been adopted by Mister Cameron since he was elected ? I could speak for great lengths about this crazy logic which consists of giving politicians the right to block a judiciary decision, in violation of the separation of powers. I could insist on the fact that no national body should be allowed to block a European ruling which is supposed to be above national law. I could say that being a sovereign country does not put one above international law. I could observe that the judges from the ECtHR are perfectly legitimate since they are elected by national MPs who are members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I could state that human rights are not designed only for criminals, and that we need common standards to improve the rights of european citizens on the long term. I could say that I am shocked by this attempt to get a special treatment and do away with collective rules that bind all other member States. I could remind Mister Cameron that if he wants to pursue with his reasoning, the only coherent decision would be to leave the Council of Europe altogether and join Belarus – the last true dictatorship in Europe – as the only European country that is not a member of the Council. I could finally lament on the fact that one of the oldest and most established democracy in the world is treating the ECtHR with even more contempt than the usual « bad guys » of the Council of Europe – and rest assured that those will not miss the opportunity to justify their attitude by quoting the British Prime Minister.

But I will stop here. I already spent too much time on this idiotic and dangerous proposal. Instead, I will paraphrase Mister Cameron when he says that the British don’t need instructions from judges in Strasbourg. No, Mister Cameron, what the British don’t need is a mediocre leader such as you whose only plan for the country is to try and overtake the UKIP’s xenophobic and populist platform, and who might actually make us miss Tony « Bliar ». So, for all these reasons Mister Cameron, as a Frenchman with an outrageous accent, I’m happy to fart in your general direction6

0 Flares Facebook 0 Twitter 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 0 Email -- Filament.io 0 Flares ×
  1. Since the British system is a dualist one, international law must be transposed by a national law in order to be directly applicable before national Courts []
  2. ECtHR, Dudgeon v UK, 22 october 1981 []
  3. ECtHR, Sunday Times v UK, 26 april 1979 []
  4. ECtHR, S and Marper v UK, 4 december 2008 []
  5. ECtHR, Grand Chamber, Hirst v. UK, 6 october 2005 []
  6. Copyright Monty Python []

(47 commentaires)

Passer au formulaire de commentaire

    • A on 6 octobre 2014 at 5 h 57 min
    • Répondre

    « scottish » (1e ligne de l’article) devrait prendre une majuscule, puisque c’est un adjectif de nationalité.
    Cet article n’est-il pas « que » la traduction de celui de Maitre Eolas, parce que ça y ressemble quand même beaucoup ?

    1. Cet article est une traduction de l’article en français que j’ai publié la veille. Je n’ai absolument pas connaissance d’un article d’Eolas sur ce sujet, je viens d’ailleurs de visiter son blog après avoir vu votre commentaire pour en avoir le coeur net. Sauf erreur de ma part, le dernier article date du 26 septembre et concerne la suspension de l’instruction dans le procès de Nicolas Sarkozy…
      Si vous avez un lien, je vous remercie d’éclairer ma lanterne – comme vous le faites d’ailleurs sur cet oubli fâcheux d’une majuscule !

  1. Since the admin of this site is working, no uncertainty very rapidly it will be famous, due to its feature contents.

  2. Let go of the fear of losing a merchant account or otherwise not obtaining the
    right answers. In fact, it has been proven that in the two-step notion of selling,
    follow-ups are important to sustain the eye with the consumers.
    All 3 products is found at and will aid you to construct your online income,
    all you need to do is read them and follow their expert
    advice.

  3. It’s really a great and useful piece of info. I am happy that you simply
    shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us up
    to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  4. constantly i used to read smaller content which also clear their motive, and that is also happening with this
    paragraph which I am reading at this time.

  5. Excellent article. Keep writing such kind of information on your page.

    Im really impressed by your site.
    Hi there, You’ve done an excellent job.
    I will certainly digg it and for my part suggest to my friends.
    I am confident they will be benefited from this website.

  6. I am actually grateful to the owner of this web site
    who has shared this great piece of writing at at this time.

  7. What i do not understood is in truth how you’re
    no longer actually much more well-preferred than you might be now.
    You are very intelligent. You understand therefore significantly on the subject of this topic,
    made me for my part consider it from a lot of numerous angles.
    Its like women and men are not involved unless it is one thing to do with Woman gaga!
    Your personal stuffs outstanding. All the time handle it up!

  8. I am now not certain where you’re getting your information,
    however great topic. I must spend a while studying
    much more or understanding more. Thank you for wonderful information I was on the lookout for this information for my mission.

  9. You can certainly see your skills in the article you write.
    The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who
    aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. At
    all times go after your heart.

  10. 北海道のリゾートバイトの働かす間とは。老練家もうなるサイトを企てる。北海道のリゾートバイトの言開きはこちら。ニュースショウをもうける。

  11. If you are going for finest contents like I do, only
    pay a quick visit this web site all the time because it gives
    feature contents, thanks

  12. Asking questions are actually good thing if you are not understanding something totally, but this
    article provides nice understanding yet.

  13. I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a
    blog that’s both equally educative and interesting, and without a
    doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is something too
    few people are speaking intelligently about.
    I am very happy I stumbled across this in my search for something regarding this.

  14. Can you tell us more about this? I’d like to find out more details.

  15. 広島県の幼稚園求人広島県の幼稚園求人

  16. Chris first nekdo jak je eerste echte storting.

  17. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who
    had been doing a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me dinner due
    to the fact that I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….
    Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this topic here
    on your website.

  18. Currently it seems like Expression Engine is the best blogging
    platform available right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

  19. My brother recommended I would possibly like this website.

    He used to be totally right. This post truly made my day.
    You can not imagine just how so much time I had spent for this info!
    Thanks!

  20. Good day I am so thrilled I found your site, I really found you by error,
    while I was researching on Digg for something else, Anyways I am here now and
    would just like to say kudos for a fantastic post
    and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to browse it all at the minute but I have book-marked
    it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I
    will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the superb work.

  21. Awesome post.

  22. Useful information. Fortunate me I found your site unintentionally, and I’m surprised why this accident did not took place in advance!

    I bookmarked it.

  23. Hi mates, its wonderful article about tutoringand entirely defined, keep it up all the time.

  24. Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just
    sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly
    enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any tips and hints for novice blog writers?
    I’d certainly appreciate it.

  25. In this case, placing your trust in the online
    tickets broker has become the best thing to do. In of late mp3’s have almost become
    as big an integral part of everyday life as cell phones. The Fan – Following Of The
    Cubs – Though the Cubs already went through a highs and lows in their professional
    career, yet they have enjoyed great fan-following.

  26. If some one desires expert view on the topic of running a
    blog then i sugest him/her to goo to see this weblog, Keep up the
    pleasant job.

  27. Excellent article. I am facing some of these issues as well..

  28. Hello, all is going nicely here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts, that’s really
    excellent, keep up writing.

  29. Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve have in mind your stuff previous to and you’re simply extremely fantastic.

    I actually like what you have bought right here, really like what you are saying and the
    way in which by which you are saying it. You’re making
    it entertaining and you continue to care for to
    keep it smart. I can’t wait to learn much more from you.

    This is really a wonderful web site.

  30. Wһat’s սp friends, its great post on tһe
    topic of tutoringand completely explained, кeep itt սp alⅼ the time.

  31. Thoughts of the event or events enter your mind less often. Heroes III is, at
    its heart, a Play – Mesh title that follows the Play – Mesh model.
    The narcissist treats disharmonious input – criticism,
    or disagreement, or data that negate the his self-perception – completely differently.

  32. I am really loving the theme/design of your website. Do you ever run into any
    web browser compatibility problems? A number of my blog readers have complained about
    my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari.
    Do you have any advice to help fix this problem?

  33. My brother suggested I may like this web site.
    He was entirely right. This post truly made my day.

    You can not imagine just how so much time I had spent for
    this information! Thank you!

  34. Piece of writing writing is also a excitement,
    if you be familiar with afterward you can write if not it is complicated to write.

  35. Tremendous things here. I’m very satisfied to peer your post.
    Thank you so much and I am looking forward to contact
    you. Will you please drop me a mail?

  36. I have read so many articles or reviews on the topic of the
    blogger lovers however this post is genuinely a pleasant article, keep it
    up.

  37. Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your blog.

    You have some really good articles and I believe I would be
    a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d
    really like to write some articles for your blog in exchange for
    a link back to mine. Please send me an e-mail if interested.
    Regards!

  38. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to
    assert that I get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Any way I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I
    achievement you access consistently fast.

  39. It’s remarkable to visit this web page and reading the views of
    all mates concerning this piece of writing, while I am also eager of getting knowledge.

  40. Amazing! Its genuinely amazing piece of writing, I have got much
    clear idea concerning from this article.

  41. Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; we have developed some nice methods and we are looking to
    trade methods with other folks, please shoot me an email if interested.

  42. Yes! Finally something about canberra.

  43. You could certainly see your skills within the work you write.
    The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to mention how
    they believe. Always go after your heart.

  44. Spójrz jakie cudowne akcesoria i zegarki znalazłem!

  45. Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you so much, However I am going through
    problems with your RSS. I don’t understand why I cannot join it.
    Is there anybody getting identical RSS issues? Anyone who
    knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!

Laisser un commentaire

Your email address will not be published.