The controversial proposals by the British government to re-write the European Convention to incorporate subsidiarity and the margin of appreciation will no doubt be met with opposition from some of the 46 countries signed up to the convention in the upcoming summit in Brighton.
The argument being propounded by ministers who wish to capitalise on Britains six month presidency of the Council Of Europe to introduce these sweeping changes, is that there is a massive backlog of cases and a watering down of the powers of British Courts. The argument that giving people less time to apply to the European Court will clear the cases seems cogent. However, there is a growing feeling these proposals are driven by populism with little regard for the implications.
The idea that the Court in Strasbourg dictates what happens in the British legal system, “one of the best legal systems in the world” has angered certain sections of society. The European Convention On Human Rights is being viewed with contempt by those who see it as an instrument used by a few to undermine the human rights of others. It’s quiet interesting that this debate is seen as timely given that the likes of Abu Qatada can not be deported “thanks to the European Convention on Human Rights”.
Most human rights campaigners view the proposals as a move towards a slippery slope to a despots dream and will not encourage the promotion of human rights in young democracies. Countries that are signatories to the ECHR need to ensure that the Court in Strasbourg stands above the political fray in order to defend individual rights when it is unpopular for governments to do so.