By Claire Darmé
It has been a few months since the issue of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) last made the headlines of British newspapers. Regularly enough, this government has been announcing it was considering taking the UK out of the ECHR, mainly under the argument that the latest development would prevent the country from protecting itself from criminals. More than anything, such a claim is a brilliant demonstration of how short-sighted David Cameron’s political vision can be.
The ECHR is a fundamental item of the fight for the respect of Human Rights not only in the UK but most especially in Europe and beyond. When one takes the time to see the broader picture, it is quite clear than in some countries like Turkey or Russia, which are most often condemned by the Court, the ECHR is the only resort for individuals facing breach of human rights by their State. It would be a disgrace if the UK were to provide such countries with an argument to open the exit door to this final safeguard for defenders of human dignity.
Furthermore, it is simply false to present the ECHR as an alien item of the British judicial system. The UK is represented among the college of judges by a judge it has appointed. Until only recently, the president of the Court was a British representative himself. Even more importantly, one should keep in mind that the very creation of the ECHR, was mostly done under the impulse and influence of British politicians and lawyers in the 1950s. The ECHR is actually one of the greatest achievements of the UK in Europe. Leaving would be nothing less than a betrayal to British heritage and British dignity.
Finally, the UK is only very rarely condemned by the Court, which most of the time rejects applications against the UK on the ground they are ill-founded. There is no ground for victimising the country when it leads way more than it suffers in its membership to the ECHR.
There are topics which sometimes are meant to bring votes to a party. Beyond that, there are actions that are in the People’s interest. Leaving the ECHR, or claiming it would be a wise move, might bring some votes which David Cameron is longing for; but it would be a final blow to the British stand for a better Europe.