The Tories in the UK are proposing a new Bill to end the ability of the European Human Rights Court (ECHR) to oversee England’s legislation. On the surface, it even has the semblance of reason: removing oversight, the Tories argue, will make sure that foreign criminals and terrorists lose their right to stay in the UK.
Is this a wise course of action? No. Hell, no!
Repealing higher authority on Human Rights issues opens the door to the same totalitarian government that was rampant in Europe not 100 years ago, and still is in those European states that are not signatories of the ECHR act. Because it’s not only the rights of terrorists that are being repealed – it’s everyone’s rights that are being encroached upon. It used to be that the need of many outweighs the need of a few. Now this principle is stood on its head: the need to get rid of a few, it is argued, outweighs the need of all to protect their human rights. This is a very, very dangerous idea.
Similar to the PATRIOT act in the US, legislation already passed in the UK gives authorities rights to seize and imprison you under trumped-up charges. A brief example: David Miranda, partner to the Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwalt who broke the NSA Snowden case, was held at London Heathrow under terrorism charges, was denied access to lawyers, and all his electronic devices where confiscated. Yet Miranda never was a terrorist suspect. Demonstrably, this was an attempt to get at Greenwalt for exposing the NSA Scandal. This is a direct violation of European Human rights, but already legal in the UK under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act (people stopped under schedule 7 have no automatic right to legal advice and it is a criminal offence to refuse to co-operate with questioning. Critics say that among other things, this curtails the right to remain silent). Do you really want to remove the last vestiges of oversight that prevent security forces from running roughshod over your loved ones in order to get to you?
The Human Rights are a central pillar of humanity. Are they perfect? No. But we should strive to increase their influence and better them instead of lessening the authoritie’s incentives to adhere to them.
The core of the human rights are
- the right to live
- freedom from torture
- freedom from slavery
- right to a fair trial
- freedom of speech
- freedom of thought, conscience and religion
- freedom of movement
- [EU exclusive] freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity
Look at the list above and ask yourself: Who in their right mind would want any less of that? Who would want to curtail everyone’s access to above rights? Do you really think the UK would be better off if they rescinded these rights in order to get rid of a few unsavory characters?
The Daily Express has called the Human Rights ‘madness’, the Daily Mail a ‘farce’. I know that learning from history is something that isn’t en vogue these days. But comparing their comments with what the Völkische Observer wrote in the 1930s gives me an unwelcome deja vu.
The scary people over at Express and Mail have called Torie’s new proposal a ‘triumph’. Well, if that’s what you think it is, here’s another scary phrase you should become comfortable with: