Saturday, October 08, 2011

the best human rights money can buy

Earlier this week Theresa May donned the jackboots essential for any Home Secretary to wear whilst speaking, got up on her hind legs and railed against the Human Rights Act to the Tory Party conference.

She singled out the use of the Act's guarantee of a right to family life being used to prevent deportations, citing a case where courts decided someone

cannot be deported because – and I am not making this up – because he had a pet cat

She was telling the truth - she had not made it up. The head of UKIP, twitchy right armed freemarket fundamentalist Nigel Farrage, made it up two months ago.

Farrage told a meeting that courts had decided somebody

should not be deported because... and I really am not making this up ... because he had a pet cat

This is, as is now established, bullshit. But the right wing campaign against the Human Rights Act rolls on.

The UK is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights. Any breach of the rights granted by the Convention can be taken to the European Court of Human Rights.

Despite what the Mail and Express tel you, none of this has anything to do with the European Union. The Convention and the courts that adjudicate on cases arising from it were set up and run by the Council of Europe, an institution older and far larger than the EU.

But here's the thing that I'm not seeing said elsewhere; the repeal of the Human Rights Act would not alter our human rights. The Convention would still stand, and the judgement of its court would still be binding.

The Human Rights Act did not give us more rights, it only made the principles of the Convention enforceable in our domestic courts. This means that people can get Legal Aid for cases instead of needing the vast heaps of personal cash required to take a case to the European Court.

Rather like the way the government (including the Labour Party) says we should have the right to strike but only if we don't use it, they are now saying we can have human rights but only if enforcement is priced out of our reach.

Once again this cabinet of millionaires moves to horde the most important resources as the exclusive preserve of the rich.

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