Will the UK withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights?

In the UK, the Conservative Party primaries to choose the new secretary, and thus the country’s new prime minister after Boris Johnson’s announced resignation, revolve around a series of proposals from the main candidates. The current Attorney General Suella Braverman announced, on Sunday, one of the candidates for the final victory, that if she becomes prime minister, she will leave the United Kingdom from the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights. The Convention protects a number of fundamental rights and in 1950 it created the European Court of Human Rights, which is an international court dealing with the enforcement of the Convention (not related to the European Union): in fact it is the main court dealing with human rights in Europe.

So far only two other countries have remained on the agreement, both with authoritarian governments: Russia, which It will be released in Septemberand Greece, which temporarily left in 1967 during the so-called “dictatorship of the colonialists”.

Braverman motivated the proposal by criticizing the court’s recent decision to prevent the forcible transfer of some asylum seekers to Rwanda, as the UK would have done after a controversial agreement with the Rwandan government. Braverman’s proposal has been picked up and commented upon by several British and international newspapers, but it’s actually not entirely new. The right wing of the Conservative Party has always hoped to leave the court, for reasons also different from each other, and over the years Former Prime Minister Theresa May has also spoken out publicly about it.

But this time, that possibility seems very tangible. The debate within the Conservative Party has shifted far to the right after the UK’s exit from the European Union, and in the final weeks of the outgoing government as well. He was working on the law which envisaged ignoring rulings or indications by the European Court of Human Rights in some limited areas.

However, leaving the agreement would have very complex repercussions beyond the situation of asylum seekers in Rwanda: ramifications that, among other things, could deter the incoming British government from pursuing the plan.

The European Court of Human Rights is a court based in Strasbourg, France, and recognized by the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, an international organization established in 1949 to deal primarily with human rights, the rule of law and the promotion of democracy. . Until now, the court is a court of last resort, in countries where it has jurisdiction, in judicial cases involving alleged violations of individual human rights, often by the state.

Recently, the court failed to make the first transfer of migrants from the UK to Rwanda unsuccessful, Banned in mid-June Specifically following an injunction from the European Court of Human Rights.

According to the court, one of the passengers, a 54-year-old Iraqi who had crossed the English Channel by boat to reach the UK, was entitled to remain in the country because he had not yet exhausted all legal avenues of access. Seek asylum in the UK and avoid being expelled. Had he been transferred to Rwanda, the man would have risked not being able to return to the UK even if his application had been successful.

The court’s decision sparked fierce criticism from conservatives. On all those from Braverman, who called the fact that a “foreign court” interfered with a decision of the British government as “unacceptable.” But it is not the first time that a conservative government has strongly criticized a decision or a series of court rulings.

Between 2010 and 2012, the court several times prevented the extradition of Islamic preacher Abu Hamza, who was arrested by British police in London in 2004 on charges of inciting terrorism, because he was afraid that he would not receive a fair trial before the American courts. . The United States had already requested in 2006 to be able to try Abu Hamza on its soil, accusing him of supporting a plan to open a recruitment center for terrorists in Oregon. The case was only released after six years of appeal and counter-claims: the court agreed to extradite Abu Hamza only in 2012.

Theresa May has argued several times with the court accusing her of delaying the Abu Hamza case, which occurred during her tenure as Home Secretary.

In the same years music institutes They criticized a lot The tribunal because of some trials that have begun against British soldiers who participated in military operations in which they were likely to violate human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the more extreme wing of the Conservative Party, the UK should exit the agreement and bind itself with a formal obligation to respect the rules it includes, which they say are already enshrined in British law. Conservative MP Jonathan Jules wrote in a recent Facebook post: “The European Court of Human Rights has no place in British law, and the government should get rid of it completely!”

The UK can leave the court’s jurisdiction at a government request. Article 58 of the agreement simply provides for a notice of termination from the agreement with six months’ notice.

From the moment it left, the UK was no longer obligated to respect the Convention, which provided for a series of protections that are now the norm in many Western countries but in the 1950s were not very broad: the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of race or religion, to have a fair trial, and prohibition of all forms of torture and forced labour. The UK will in any case be obligated to respect the Court’s rulings as to the facts which occurred during the period in which it was still a party to the Agreement: it is possible, in short, that even after a possible exit from the Agreement the UK would still have to deal with the Court for many years.

There is also a series of ramifications beyond the European Court of Human Rights that make it difficult to break out of the agreement.

Compliance with the Agreement is provided for, for example, in Article 692 ofAd approval It was signed by the European Union and the United Kingdom after Britain’s exit from the European Union. It is clear in the text that if the UK withdraws from the agreement, some parts of the agreement relating to judicial and police cooperation will no longer apply. In other words, this means that the UK and the EU must negotiate a new agreement: it would be very difficult to do today, at a time when relations between the two sides are poor due to some of the decisions made by the Johnson government on Brexit. .

How pointed out Even the British magazine new country state, The UK’s exit from the agreement also violates the so-called “Good Friday Agreements” which since 1998 have governed the peaceful coexistence of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Final text of the agreementsPDF) in effect states that the UK guarantees that the European Court of Human Rights also has jurisdiction in Northern Ireland: something it can no longer guarantee in the event of departure, given that Northern Ireland is part of its territory.

Although it had been working on a law to override the court’s jurisdiction in some areas, including the military, Boris Johnson’s outgoing government denied it was interested in withdrawing from the agreement and the court. However, the incoming Conservative government may have a different idea on the subject.

Earl Warner

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