Våre domstoler, ikke Europas, må ha siste ord, skriver den britiske justisministeren Kenneth Clarke i Daily Mail.
The daily accounts of state-sponsored violence in North Africa and the Middle East put into sharp relief the liberties which we British have relied upon for centuries. It is nearly eight hundred years since Magna Carta guaranteed basic freedoms in England. Habeus corpus, which prevents unlawful imprisonment, was first used in the fourteenth century. Fundamental protections have long been a part of our way of life.
The British played a key role in establishing the European Convention on Human Rights, in the aftermath of World War Two.
The right to a fair trial, freedom from torture and freedom of speech were enshrined for the first time in an internationally agreed charter, designed to prevent a repeat of Hitler’s tyranny and the slaughter of millions in which it resulted.
I believe that these basic rights remain relevant and necessary today.While many human rights judgments are denounced as interfering in the will of domestic parliaments, others regularly help to extend the rule of law into emerging democracies, for example, by tackling the murder of journalists in Russia or the protection of religious freedoms in Turkey.
Here in Britain, they forced the last government to think again about the retention of DNA and the abuse of stop and search powers – both now scrapped by a Coalition Government committed to reversing a decade of authoritarianism. But at times the Strasbourg Court is enforcing rights in situations where the drafters of the European Convention never intended them to be.
– Jeg deler den europeiske bekymringen over domstolens endrede tilnærming. Når menneskerettigheter oftere blir assosiert med å forsvare det uforsvarbare enn å beskytte det sårbare, må vi handle, fortsetter Clarke, og viser til krangelen mellom EMD og det britiske parlamentet om fengselinnsattes stemmerett:
Strasbourg’s ruling that Britain remove the blanket ban on prisoner voting is a case in point. It treads on the toes of our Parliament and creates a political controversy which risks devaluing the authority of the Convention.
The key issue here is the weight decisions at a European level give to the strength of domestic legal systems – and the extent to which they allow for genuine democratic differences in national approach.
I believe that it is primarily for national parliaments and courts to protect the rights contained in the Convention.
Strasbourg should not be used as a court of appeal from our own Supreme Court.
It should not step in where cases have already been properly considered by independent, reputable national courts.
There are already signs that we are making progress.
Yesterday all 47 members of the Council of Europe called for Strasbourg to exercise restraint in interfering in national decisions on the deportation of asylum seekers and others who have exhausted fair, effective domestic court procedures.
This is an important first step and we will continue to push for other much-needed reforms when we take over the chair of the Council of Europe in November.
This Government believes that the best way forward is to address the weaknesses of the Court, while preserving the strengths of the Convention.
When properly applied, it is a bulwark against state-sponsored persecution and the dreadful crimes that can follow in its wake.