Thursday, 10 February 2011


We could withdraw from the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights, but it probably wouldn't do us much good because the EU itself is about to join the ECHR as a party - this was agreed as part of the Treaty of Lisbon (see below - now article 6 of what we used to call the Treaty of Rome): this will include a right to complain about ECJ judgments to the ECtHR and will fundamentally entrench the Convention into EU law, which is of course supreme in our legal system and which is a means by which Judges can ignore Acts of Parliament.

Human Rights as expressed in the European Convention and applied by the European Court of Human Rights are here to stay.  The Govt lost the argument on prisoners' votes when it litigated it before the Court.  The Court is not perfect and has some very inexperienced judges from jurisdictions without any domestic human rights code or incorporation of the Convention.  It needs reform and it need proper resources.  It also needs a greater respect of the 'margin of appreciation'.  It does not however require abolition.  We should work towards its improvement, rather than declaring war on its occasional good work.

Article 6

(ex Article 6 TEU)
1. The Union recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000, as adapted at Strasbourg, on 12 December 2007, which shall have the same legal value as the Treaties.
The provisions of the Charter shall not extend in any way the competences of the Union as defined in the Treaties.
The rights, freedoms and principles in the Charter shall be interpreted in accordance with the general provisions in Title VII of the Charter governing its interpretation and application and with due regard to the explanations referred to in the Charter, that set out the sources of those provisions.
2. The Union shall accede to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Such accession shall not affect the Union's competences as defined in the Treaties.
3. Fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, shall constitute general principles of the Union's law.

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