Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Human Rights - Who is in Charge?

Over the last week, I have been dealing with two cases relating to the Human Rights Act. First, our ability to deport criminals in cases where they claim family ties to stay in Britain under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The case arose in relation to a constituent, Bishal Gurung, who was killed in 2008 while celebrating the Nepalese New Year in London.

It is one thing to refuse to deport someone back into the arms of a torturing state - I believe Britain should maintain the absolute prohibition on torture. But, the majority of deportation cases blocked on human rights grounds involve claims based on the right to family life. For me, that is a step too far, because it is such a broad basis on which to frustrate deportation proceedings and law enforcement. But, whatever your opinion, expanding the human rights grounds in this area should be subject to the approval of directly elected law-makers, not determined by unaccountable judges. As reported in the Sunday Telegraph, I have made it clear that I believe we need to amend the Human Rights Act to provide proper democratic control in this area.

The second issue is the idea of giving prisoners the vote. I believe that if someone commits a serious enough crime that they are sent to prison, they should forfeit the right to vote (along with their liberty) for the period of incarceration. Again, whatever your view on this moral and political issue, it shouldn't be for the courts - let alone the Strasbourg Court - to impose a novel prescription (never envisaged by the drafters of the ECHR) that undermines the will of the UK's elected law-makers. I debated the issue on Newsnight here (from 31 min 20 secs), and spoke in this week's Parliamentary debate here.

5 comments:

Kiki said...

I completely agree with you and I believe most voters will too. If you commit an offence so serious that the Courts deems a period of detention appropriate then you have opted out of society for that amount of time. Being unable to vote is as much of the punishment as taking any other liberties away. I do not want to afford the luxury of voting to murderers, paedophiles etc.. in this age of austerity that is a luxury we can ill afford and even if we had all the money in the world do we want our MP's wasting time campaigning in prisons - some of the prisons hold so many inmates their votes could make a real difference locally.

Richard Tebboth said...

There is much debate/noise/contradiction on

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2011/01/the-u-turn-over-votes-for-prisoners-highlights-three-of-the-governments-major-weaknesses.html

about the vote issue.

Conflation with Geneva Conventions?

Perhaps you can set out the state of relevant UK and international law succinctly for the lay reader.

Emms R said...

I suspect a large number of people in prison, did not even vote before they went in. Perhaps giving them the vote, might help them intergrate into society better. Especially young offenders, it could teach them that the pen is mightier than the sword and that they can influence change in a positive way. I understand that may be uncomfortable for some people, especially victims of crime.

Ian said...

For the love of God get us OUT of the EU's clutches. This cultural Marxism has to end. It is killing this Country.

Emms R said...

BREAKING NEWS, control orders to be replaced with - control orders. Slightly less restrictive I admit, but I had hoped the changes would have gone further. What's your view on the changes Mr Raab?

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