Monday, July 15, 2013

Conservative MP Priti Patel says UK Ministers should reject ECHR judgments that undermine the sovereignty of the UK Parliament, yet again she is out of touch and babbling utter nonsense, must be easier ways to get noticed in the Tory Party

Dear All

I thought I would do a piece on Conservative MP’s Priti Patel and her take on human rights because someone should really be taking her to task.

So let’s get cracking, I have blogged on her before regarding her idea that prisoners shouldn’t get educated, which as we all know is a route out of crime.

“The European Court of Human Rights’ ruling on life sentences was deeply disturbing and disgraceful. To have European judges demand that we scrap our system of life sentences and give the country’s most evil killers the real prospect of having their sentences reviewed and the hope of release is sickening”.

Firstly, the rule of law is important, Priti Patel is simply following a well trodden road of ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ and as we know, David Cameron’s stance, there is nothing imaginative about playing ‘follow the leader’. 

“These judges have claimed that life sentences were inhumane and degrading unless there was “both a prospect of release and a possibility of review.” They also believe that prisoners serving life sentences should “be offered the possibility of rehabilitation and the prospect of release if that rehabilitation is achieved” and that life sentences are “incompatible with...human dignity.” Few in Britain would agree with these sentiments and most would rather see these killers, who took away the lives and dignity of their victims, stay behind bars”.

Well, what does it say that she appears to think that law is a good thing as long as she agrees with the verdict? I would say it puts her in a category that is unfit to be a Minister of the Crown. We expect Ministers to set aside personal views in making decisions, bring your prejudice in is never a good sign. Some people are too dangerous to be released from, in their cases a whole life sentence is required, however; it doesn’t weaken society to uphold the law and allow a review.

Ms. Patel says:

“As a result of these judges’ obsession with supporting the demands of Britain’s most vile and heinous killers, this decision has now quite rightly reignited the debate about whether the UK should remain part of the ECHR and the future of human rights laws in this country”.

This isn’t an obsession about supporting demands of Britain’s most vile and heinous killers, it is a matter of upholding the law; they don’t get to exercise personal prejudice which is why they were picked in the first place to sit on the bench.

She appears to have lost the plot:

“It is a debate we must have and one the Conservative Party should be leading. But as shocking as this decision was, the judgement did not surprise those of us who have warned of this undemocratic Court’s meddling in our affairs”.
Undemocractic court??????

What is she babbling on about, are there elections to Courts in Britain?

“For too long the ECHR – aided and abetted by the Council of Europe – has abused the European Convention on Human Rights and used its powers to circumvent Parliamentary democracy in an unaccountable way”.

Try thinking that our judiciary and indeed any judiciary should always be independent of government.

In pressing her argument she uses cases such as Mohammed Ibrahim, Adow Sufi, Ibrahim Elmi and Abu Qatada’s as an excuse to simply abandon human rights and place those rights in the hands of government rather than a court.

Since when is that ever a good idea?

She now turns her attention to an issue I have previously blogged on, should prisoners get the vote?

In my view, the answer is yes!

I do recognise that there is an argument for criteria which should be discussed, but that is merely details, the concept is important. My personal view is that anyone who is with 12 months of release should be able to get the right to vote. Other people may have a longer or short view on timesclae, but that is a matter for Parliament, so far, Ms. Patel can’t be bothered to uphold these fundamental rights.

And given she doesn’t care, how can anyone take her seriously?

As to her other gripe regarding that Prison life should be arranged so as to approximate as closely as possible to the realities of life in the community. That should mean opportunities for rehabilitation and possibly education and where possible the development of life skills.

We rightly put people in prison for crimes; however, some people recognise the value of the rehabilitation process. And if the bottom line has any meaning for Ms. Patel, there is the cost argument to consider, it costs a fortune to lock people up.

She waxes lyrically that neither of these policies received Parliamentary approval in Britain as if that is something to be proud of, it isn’t. In a country where we are continually told that people have rights and responsibilities, it should be her duty to uphold rights if her argument for responsibilities means anything.

As to her solution of 1, 2 and 3!

“Firstly, Ministers must put a stop to these European institutions’ constant desire to take powers away from the British people and into the hands of unaccountable bureaucrats in Strasbourg. This can be done by refusing to recognise the policies the Council of Europe adopts which contravene our interests, and rejecting ECHR judgements that undermine the sovereignty of our Parliament and integrity of our justice system”.

It rather appears she is making an argument for UKIP or is it, in the EU but only wanting to choose the good bits?

“Secondly, we should put an end to the ECHR being used as a final court of appeal by criminals, terrorists and illegal immigrants. This should also include preventing prisoners from using legal aid to fund their cases”.

Previously I have blogged and said that the European Convention on Human Rights needs reviewed, but more than that, the real problem is appointing people who have such a lack of understanding about human rights in the first place.

“And thirdly, we should protect human rights in this country through a British Bill of Rights. Britain has a proud tradition safeguarding fundamental rights, such as the right to a fair trial. Our Parliament and our courts are far more qualified to balance these rights and the national interest in an effective and democratic way than the tyrannical bureaucrats and judges in Strasbourg”.

A Bill of Rights, is she having a laugh? What she really means is removing rights, as to dragging up ‘tradition’ how bankrupt is that? We also had a ‘tradition’ in this country where innocent people were fitted up by the State and put in prison. And how are our Parliament and our courts are far more qualified? Law is a universal concept, human rights are a universal concept, and are we more superior in the UK?

If we were she wouldn’t be babbling this load of nonsense and instead she would be pushing for better training of the judiciary in their understanding of human rights, she would be pushing for a review of European Convention on Human Rights.

As to “Ministers should reject ECHR judgments that undermine the sovereignty of our Parliament”, presumably she is angling for a Cabinet post, how about fisheries, out of mind and out of sight!

Better still send her up the backbenches till she learns respect for the law.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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