After winning the General Election, David Cameron and the Conservative Party claimed the current Human Rights Act in Britain was a ‘complete mess’. They stated that the plan is to scrap the current Human Rights Act that was put into place by the Labour Party in 1998 and move away from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Instead they propose creating a new British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
Mr Cameron’s main concern with the current Human Rights Act is that terrorists and criminals are allowed to abuse these rights to control their own situation. One example of this is the recent ruling of the Strasbourg court, in relation to the prisoner’s right to vote. One British prisoner took the British Government to the ECtHR because he claimed that his Human Rights were in breach since he was not allowed to vote. It seems ridiculous that criminals, people that have a blatant disregard for the law, should use it in an attempt to embarrass the current government. John Hirst, the person that brought forward the case, is a convicted killer; I personally believe that once you commit such a despicable act you should waive some of your previous rights, especially your right to vote. How can you be mentally fit to pick the future leader of our country when you cannot even see that killing another human being is morally wrong? Even in that act of killing you are denying the other person of, arguably, the most important Human Right of all, the Right to Life. So how can Mr Hirst be for the Human Rights Act yet simultaneously contradict himself?
What the Conservatives are proposing is a new British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. This is because they believe that ‘it’s about making sure the British Parliament is accountable to the British people and British judges make decisions in British courts.’ These statements came around the time of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the original document people quote when talking about Human Rights. Cameron hails the sealing of the document but claims that there needs to be a reform in Human Rights legislation. This could bring a breath of fresh air into the British legal system and help get rid of many of the flaws in the old Human Rights act, for example, a foreign national can avoid deportation after beating his spouse due to Article 8: ‘A right to a private and family life.’ He would be allowed to stay in this country solely because of the woman he was beating; the idea is absolutely absurd. Of course this new Bill would not be perfect and there will still be some drawbacks, however, it should be better than the current Act since we can learn from our mistakes.
Another problem with the current Act is that it gives the ECtHR too much power and influence over our domestic legal system. Their ‘Living Instrument Doctrine’ allows them to adapt, change and expand the current convention into fields it was not designed for. When we signed the convention, we agreed with what it contained, however, now the British government has no say over how it evolves and it no longer does the job that it was created for. On the other hand, if we created our own independent Bill then the government, elected by the public, would have more control of our domestic legislation and it would reflect the wants and needs of citizens.
In my opinion this new Bill could bring positives as well as negatives. For example we would be able to deport dangerous individuals that are a threat to national security and are only allowed to stay in this country due to an ambiguous Human Rights. I think almost everyone would agree that would be a move in the right direction, however, it would give British judges and politicians a lot more power, and as they say, ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ I believe that an updated British Bill of Human Rights and Responsibilities would be much more effective than the current out of date one and I look forward to the Conservative Party releasing their draft of the new Bill.
Original image used