The Ministry of Justice presents a proposal to stop the expansion of the European Convention on Human Rights
The Minister of Justice and Deputy Prime Minister of the British Government, Dominic Raab, has published a document with the main lines of a reform of British law that incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights and that aspires, according to the minister, to “reinforce rights typically British, such as free speech and trial by jury, and will prevent abuses of the system, adding a healthy dose of common sense.
The reform wants to give exclusive power over the interpretation of the application of the laws to the Supreme Court of England and Wales, and at the same time keep the United Kingdom in the group of 47 members of the Council of Europe who agree to obey the final decisions of the Court from Strasbourg. British judges played an important role in the drafting of the Convention after World War II.
Successive conservative governments have wanted to limit the influence of the Court in British politics, based constitutionally on the supremacy of Parliament. David Cameron also tried to create a Bill of Rights, but it stalled. Theresa May proposed to abandon the Convention, but backed down when she reached the head of government. The vast current conservative majority favors this attempt.
It was Tony Blair, in 1998, who, supported by his huge parliamentary majority, pushed for the approval of the Human Rights law that transposes the European convention into British law. But the expansion of the Strasbourg court’s areas of jurisdiction has pitted liberal lawyers and judges against defenders of the constitutional tradition.
Around 2% of the lawsuits that this court has seen have had the British Government as a party, but all its sentences must be assumed as guides for the actions of governments and public entities, also of relations between individuals, in the signatory countries. In a good year, you issue more than 50,000 verdicts.
A highly regarded jurist, Jonathan Sumption, a former Supreme Court judge, criticizes in his book, ‘Trials of the State’, the activism and power acquired by Strasbourg and, therefore, extension, also by British judges. “One may think that their fellow citizens should choose liberal values and yet not want to impose them,” he concludes.
The right to family life in Article 8 of the Convention has resulted in an abuser who had not paid his obligations to his wife and child was protected by the Court against deportation based on that right. 70% of the cases that are successful are foreign criminals who allege a reduction in their right to family life to avoid their expulsion, according to the Ministry.
The government, which its French colleagues encourage to carry out more deportations to eliminate the magnet effect of illegal immigration, wants to create a preliminary barrier of proof of harm or importance of the case to reduce the number of lawsuits. And he wants judges to apply the new British law as well when judging the activities of the armed forces in a conflict.
The announcement comes at a time of tension between judges and the Government. Lawyer Raab and his colleague Suella Braverman, the State Attorney General, have promised to create a mechanism for reviewing judges’ sentences in Parliament. The jurists await the concrete formulation of the mechanism, fearing that it will be a constitutional aberration or a reinforcement of the power of the Executive.
The gallery of laws and non-liberal bills of the Government of Boris Johnson, previously perceived as a fan of the libertarian current, is extensive. Undercover Agents allow them to commit crimes, including causing deaths. The Nationality and Borders section discriminates between refugees according to how they entered the country, in apparent contradiction to the 1951 Convention, and allows officials to deprive British of their nationality without notifying them.
The Brexit Government connects with the sentiments of its electoral base, which prefers the British and strong politics, and rejects the “politically correct”, mentioned by Raab as a bug of his project. Liberals accuse him of being cavalier with international treaties that cushion the risk of domestic abuse or with the constitutional balances of the UK system.
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