The Conservative Party’s new plan to pull Britain out the reach of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if it wins in the general election next year has at least one international supporter: Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Scrapping the 1998 Human Rights Act, which requires rulings at the ECHR to be incorporated into British law, has long been a key aim of the party. At his speech at the party’s annual conference David Cameron provided his shopping list of grievances:
Rulings to stop us deporting suspected terrorists. The suggestion that you’ve got to apply the human rights convention even on the battlefields of Helmand. And now, they want to give prisoners the vote. No, I’m sorry, I just don’t agree … We do not require instruction from judges in Strasbourg on this issue.
The new strategy, released on Friday by the Justice Department, aims to end the ability of the European Court to require the UK to change British laws, limit the reach of human rights laws to only the most serious cases, and balance those rights against civic responsibilities.
Cameron’s position has received some Russian sympathy. In August, Russian President Vladimir Putin
told members of the State Duma that he would consider withdrawing Russia from the ECHR, saying the court’s judgements were “simply fulfilling some political function.” Putin said:
If this practice gets stronger, [Russia’s withdrawal from the ECHR jurisdiction] is possible.
(The court delivered 129 judgments concerning Russia last year, 119 of which found at least one violation of human rights laws.)
Civil rights campaigners, obviously, reacted strongly against Cameron’s proposals:
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