Who Needs Rights? UK Politicians Divided Over Exiting European Human Rights Convention

Amid escalating tensions over immigration and human rights, some in government have sought to downplay the idea of leaving the European Convention on Human Rights. Here’s the full story.

Sustained Attack

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Just days after Amnesty International released a report that savages the UK government’s sustained attack on human rights both at home and abroad, a divisive debate has begun over the UK’s membership of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Confected Concerns

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Amid confected concerns over small boat crossings, which bring a tiny number of people into the country, high-ranking officials have attempted to downplay the necessity of implementing the right-wing Conservative dream of leaving the ECHR. 

Drastic Measures

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Foreign Secretary David Cameron has asserted that such drastic measures are not “necessary,” despite others in his party who would love to see the UK, like human rights abusers Russia and Belarus, no longer part of the ECHR.

Small Number

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The entire right-wing argument for leaving the ECHR is rooted in the difficulty of negotiating a returns agreement with France for the small number of asylum seekers and refugees who come to the UK looking for a better life.

Rwanda Plan

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Under the guise of tackling people smuggling, Downing Street has launched an assault on human rights by threatening to deport small boat migrants to Rwanda to await their processing. The UK’s highest court and the ECHR have declared this policy illegal.

Thorn in the Side

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Despite the UK being integral to the founding of the ECHR, with Winston Churchill being a strong proponent, the human rights court has been a frequent thorn in the side of politicians who want to trample on human rights.

Migrant Quota

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The UK government attributes the difficulty of sending people back to France after they have made the perilous journey to the UK to the European Union’s insistence on the UK accepting a quota of migrants, which British authorities deemed unacceptable. 

Illegal Plan

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At the same time, Parliament has advanced legislation to bolster the government’s Rwanda deportation scheme, which is likely to be held up in the courts due to its illegal implementation. 

“Don’t Think It’s Necessary”

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Cameron told ITV’s Peston, “I don’t think it’s necessary to leave the ECHR, I don’t think that needs to happen to make this policy work.”

“Totally Different Situation”

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Cameron was then asked if he’d have implemented the ‘send them back’ plan when he was Prime Minister, to which he responded, “We had a totally different situation because (we) could return people directly to France.”

“Not Possible”

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He continued, “Now, I’d love that situation to be the case again, that’s the most sensible thing. People land on a beach in Kent, you take them straight back to France, you therefore break the model of the people smugglers. That’s not available at the moment. It’s simply not possible.”

Serious Ethical Considerations

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The Supreme Court’s ruling against the Rwanda deportation scheme underscores the legal complexities, not to mention serious ethical considerations, at play. 

Internationally Illegal

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Refoulement, the act of forcing an asylum seeker back to a nation where they are likely to face prosecution, is illegal under several international treaties, including the ECHR, the UN Refugee Convention, the UN Convention Against Torture and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Human Rights Act

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These treaties have, in turn, been written into UK domestic law under acts such as the Human Rights Act 1998, which requires the country to comply with international standards on human rights. 

National Sovereignty

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However, the recent Conservative election ploy of “stopping the boats” has brought these hard-won protections into doubt, with tensions mounting between the UK’s much-vaunted national sovereignty and its international obligations. 

“Not on the Table”

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A government spokesperson confirmed Cameron’s statements, saying, “It is the case that such a returns agreement with the French is not possible, it’s not on the table.”

“Required Quotas”

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They continued, “We would not agree to any kind of deal that required quotas in return.”

“Out of Step”

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Additionally, Home Secretary James Cleverly, speaking at an event in Rome, dismissed the ECHR’s criticisms of the Rwanda bill as “out of step.”

“Moral Hazard”

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Cleverly stated, “There is a real moral hazard in saying to a nation state government that it cannot manage its own borders, it cannot make decisions about who does or does not live in its own country.”

“Democratic Process”

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He continued, “Because that undermines the integrity of the democratic process in which we live.”

Asylum Seekers

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As the UK grapples with the difficult decision of whether asylum seekers deserve human rights and whether, in its rampant desire to reduce asylum numbers, the UK should become the first country to leave the ECHR voluntarily, the government remains steadfast in its illegal decision to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. 

Breaking International Law

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Whether the government so badly wants to deport people whose only crime is to come to the UK seeking a better life that they will break international law and leave the one court which oversees it remains to be seen.

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The post “A Moral Hazard” – UK Politicians Divided Over Exiting European Human Rights Convention first appeared on Edge Media.

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Grant Gallacher is a seasoned writer with expertise in politics and impactful daily news. His work, deeply rooted in addressing issues that resonate with a wide audience, showcases an unwavering commitment to bringing forth the stories that matter. He is also known for satirical writing and stand up comedy.

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