Friday, 25 May 2012

European Court of Human rights & votes for Convicts

Wednesday night I was stood in our local Chinese take-away waiting for my order and leafing through The Sun when I came across an article on the court of Human rights over ruling Parliament and declaring prisoners should be allowed to vote.

This made me cross.

Not because I am opposed to Convicts voting - I mean I am but I acknowledge I'm a little right wing when it comes to justice and policing and personally believe that if you've been excluded from society by Prison you cannot and should not take part in Society through voting. This is by the by though.

I was annoyed by the language of the piece that kept repeating that Murderers and Paedophiles may now vote like regular people. This is true however there are other criminals who've committed other offences in prison who make up the majority. Yes people like Ian Huntly and Ian Brady are the lowest of the low but they are human beings, barely, but there you are. They should be accorded the same rights as everyone else.

That said, it was The Sun and I had no high hopes of literary genius.

What really got under my skin, and bare in mind that I disagreed with the Court's decision, was the comments made about the Human rights court.

The Court was set up after the Second World War (1959) to enforce human rights cases throughout Europe. The Court is not part of the EEC or EU and, yes as the Sun pointed out, the judges are "un-elected" and preside over cases that may be in violation of the Human rights declaration (1948) within Europe. They are an external body that is meant to be devoid of politics.

The Sun's article displayed a lot of anger that Europe was again dipping its oar into our affairs and contradicting a democratically elected British parliament.

To quote someone from the American War of Independence ( can't remember who);
An elected legislature can trample a mans rights just as much as a dictator.

The NSDAP government elected to Germany's Reichstag is a clear example of this as is President Assad in Syria, President Mugabe's administration in Zimbabwe etc. The point is, whether we agree with the Court's ruling or not the fact is they feel that not giving prisoners the right to vote is clearly a violation of the Human rights declaration. There is still a right to appeal.

The Court, like any legal court has made an informed decision and consulted and deliberated over the laws and the protocols that we, the British people have signed up to and helped to create. We cannot disregard things that we don't like when it comes to Human rights just because its not convenient to us and hiding behind an "elected legislature" doesn't mean that abuses aren't or can't happen and we have to respect the Court's decision whether we agree with it or not.


  1. Hear, hear - although I disagree with you on the issue of prisoners votes itself, but like you said that's by-the-by. My local Chinese takeaway is the only place I ever set eyes upon the inside pages of The Sun and this post is yet another reminder of why I hate it and its ilk.

    It would appear you quoted a fictional character from The Patriot movie; but it's still a good quote!

    Interestingly, the tiresome phrase 'unelected European judges' doesn't really hold as much water as readers of the red-tops would like. It's true they aren't popularly elected but there is actually a process of "election". Three candidates are forwarded by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly where the UK has 18 seats. All members of the assembly are MPs from domestic parliaments. Therefore some of our own MPs have a say on which judges are appointed to the ECtHR's bench. That's a lot more say than we have on selecting our own judges!

    1. I thought I read somewhere that it was one of the lines of the film they plagerised from a real historical character like the line;

      "Why should I trade one tyrant three hundred miles away for three hundred tyrants one mile away?"

      Whoops, that'll teach me! ;-)

      Yeah I'm not a regular reader of the Sun either for similiar reasons.