After watching the video of John Hirst celebrate his votes-for-prisoners ‘victory’ with champagne and a joint, and basking in the humiliation of the UK government once again caving in to a decision made by foreigners, I thought I would look a little closer at the European Convention on Human Rights. Of course, this country is duty-bound to adhere to the European Court of Human Rights’ decisions, apparently no matter how much harm this might do to us. Why did our government sign up to such a potentially dangerous document?
The members of the newly-formed Council of Europe signed the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 1950. The UK was one of the first to ratify it when it passed through Parliament in 1951 and became effective two years later. In 1966 the UK granted “individual petition” – the right to take a case to the Court in Strasbourg.
The European Convention was inspired by the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I will pick out some of the Convention’s Articles and discuss these, but I have a problem even before we get onto the Articles. The brief introduction to the Convention includes,
Being resolved, as the Governments of European countries which are like-minded and have a common heritage of political traditions, ideals, freedom and the rule of law to take the first steps for the collective enforcement of certain of the Rights stated in the Universal Declaration;
Have agreed as follows:
Does anyone else have a problem with collective enforcement? The number of members of the Council of Europe has increased from the original ten to 47 – every country west of the Urals except for Belarus and Vatican City – and our past governments have given them the right to determine the law in this country. There are still hard-line communists in governments across Eastern Europe and governments representing largely Muslim populations – and we have to abide by rulings which their representatives have voted on.
Article 2 states that, Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law…
It is a shame that the millions of unborn babies killed in the womb cannot get lawyers to act on their behalf to uphold their right to life.
We also read that deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary… in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.
This might come in handy for the government in the days to come.
Article 3 states that, No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Clearly the UK government has itself contravened this Article with its involvement in torture. The USA has made a mockery of the almost identical Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In 2007 the Scottish Executive was faced with a bill for tens of millions of pounds after Law Lords decided that our signing up to the Convention meant that prisoners who had been made to slop out should be compensated.
Yesterday’s ruling focused on four men kept in segregation in prison, but was seen as an important test case for inmates who have suffered inhumane or degrading conditions since 1999, when the ECHR was introduced under the Scotland Act.
Article 4 states that, Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person.
Ahem, but not persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts, or vagrants.
Article 8.1 states that, Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
And the government wants companies to store all our email correspondence as well as telephone calls and log all the websites we visit. But, as always, it’s one law for us and one for them, because they ultimately don’t care about our rights.
Imagine if this happens and 50 million people take legal action against the government, citing Article 8.1.
Oh, wait, there is a get-out clause –
Article 8.2 states that, There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except… in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
As we are all now considered potential terrorists, Article 8.1 could be redefined thus: “No one has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.”
Can you smell the con trick yet?
Article 9.1 states that, Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
Our governments have been ritually abusing this Article. I don’t even need to provide links as we have all heard of many ridiculous judgments and false arrests.
Oh, wait, there is another get-out clause (wouldn’t you just know it?)
Article 9.2 states that, Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
So basically, anything! Any new “law” can be put in place to deprive you of your religious liberty. In fact, there doesn’t even need to be a law, just a perceived or invented threat to public safety or public order.
And what does the protection of morals mean in today’s world? (This could be a lengthy post in itself.) Again, it could mean just about anything the “authorities” want it to mean and misused to target a specific group whose influence or authority they want to reduce.
We don’t seem to have any guaranteed freedom to manifest our beliefs, despite, or more likely because of, so called Human Rights.
Article 10.1 states that, Everyone has the right to freedom of expression…
Super! Ah, but, and I’m noticing a pattern now, the second part of this Article has a list of conditions and restrictions. These are sometimes necessary to maintain a civilised society, of course, but the wording paves the way for governments to abandon the spirit of human rights.
Article 12 states that, Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right.
This sounds very non-inclusive, doesn’t it? There are different “rights” these days involving homosexuals, bisexuals and people who have changed sex. Morals have deteriorated since the Convention was drafted and one of the great dangers of Human Rights legislation is that whatever seems right to a minority can seem awfully wrong to everyone else, but nevertheless still be enshrined in legislation for everyone else to comply with, thereby risking reducing their human rights.
Human Rights have proven to be an excellent addition to the government’s divide and rule arsenal. While we have been arguing among ourselves about “gay rights” and special treatment for gypsies, the government has been throwing spadefuls of our sovereignty across the English Channel without our appropriate response: demanding trials for treason.
The document then starts dealing with organisational and procedural issues, but this brief Article I found chilling,
Article 52 states that, The judgement of the Court shall be final.
Therefore our country can be taken to court, and judgement passed on us by people from Iceland to Azerbaijan, and we must comply.
Bring me the heads of the traitors who have allowed this to happen!