November 21 2023
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was drafted after the War with the
laudable aim of protecting basic rights against the risk of countries sliding back into
totalitarianism but the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has become effectively
a law making body rather than adhering to its allotted task of interpreting the text as agreed
by the founding states.
The UK’s human rights law has been a long-running sore since the Blair government brought
in the Human Rights Act in 1998 (HRA), which (1) gave effect within the UK’s internal law to
the ECHR and (2) required UK courts, to “take into account” judgments and opinions of the
European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg when interpreting the ECHR rights.
The Strasbourg Court has persistently interpreted the meaning of the Convention by creating
new legal rules and doctrines not founded on the actual Convention text, which in some
important cases are demonstrably contrary to the intentions of its drafters. So interpreted,
it is now a completely different instrument from what was agreed in the 1950s. Instead of
protecting basic rights upon which all can agree, it seeks to prevent states from exercising
legitimate democratic choices and wrongly demonises such choices as breaches of human
The most urgent problem created by this situation – amongst many others – is the apparently
uncontrollable inflow of illegal immigrants in small boats across the Channel who use asylum
and human rights laws to resist removal from the UK. The government’s solution to deport
arrivals to Rwanda and process their asylum claims there has so far been entirely stymied by a
web of legal challenges, with the Supreme Court judgment of 15 November 2023 being the
latest, possibly fatal, blow.
Although the ECHR is not an EU instrument and comes under the ambit of the Council of
Europe, now that we are no longer an EU member and are not under the same constraints,
we should be asking whether, in these changed circumstances, why we need to farm out the
interpretation of our fundamental rights and liberties to a foreign court, when other cou
Click here to read the report.