Saturday, 7 September 2013

European Court, EU and Human Rights

The European Commission for Human Rights, the brain child of David Maxwell Fyfe, one of the prosecutors at the Nuernberg trials after WWII, has just passed its 60th anniversary on 3 Sept. 2013.

Maxwell Fyfe, who apparently was a bit of a hard-liner, had obviously been strongly influenced and touched by the accounts of the misery imposed upon human kind by dictatorial regimes in the 1930s and ’40s. He felt, that for a civilized world to develop in a global fashion, the excesses he had experienced should never be allowed to develop again. KZ-camps and persecution of people with different thoughts due to creed, religion and race should be a thing of the past.
Modern, international co-existence in a civilized society could only develop in an orderly manner, if some sort of protective, international legislation were implemented.

In 1959 the European Court of Human Rights was therefore established, seated in Strasbourg.

The judges are chosen amongst the 47 contracting countries in order to make it a truly international court. The details can easily be found on various articles via Google and Wikipedia.

I find it more than interesting, however, to observe how this court has developed.
The court’s decisions have not always been popular and in the last few years a strange tendency has developed.
Granted, the question of what constitutes “Human Rights” doesn’t seem to have a clear answer; someone’s right on one side may be someone else’s injustice on the other, but whilst the initial idea is very laudable, it may also be argued, that the power of the Court increasingly seems to infringe upon the law-profile of each of the member states.
Additionally, the larger signatories (e.g. UK, France, Germany, Russia) will have to abide by judgements made by e.g. Malta, San Marino, Andorra and Liechtenstein, whose composite populations could hardly fill a suburb of Moscow.

The questions, therefore, are: who sets the norms and values? To whom is the Court responsible? Who reins it in?

These questions have become more and more accentuated, as judgements increasingly become contradictory to the feelings of right and wrong of many people.

In the UK Abu Quatada, a person who was deemed dangerous due to his terrorist activities and who had entered England illegally, cost the state millions of Pounds, paid by the tax payers, as it proved impossible to extradite him back to his country of origin, Jordan, “due to his human rights”. The fear was that he would be tortured.
But what about his proven terrorist threats and activities? Who would protect the “Human Rights” of his potential victims.

There are many cases like Abu Quatada’s and it seems, that every time a proven criminal or suspected terrorist is threatened by extradition, the Court prevents their removal from a peaceful society with the less and less acceptable excuse: “due to their human rights”.

So what have we actually nurtured in Strasbourg in the years since 1959?

It seems to me, that the European Court has developed quite its own little fiefdom with its own rules, values and interpretations.
It has become a court, who without hesitation protects paedophiles, terrorists, illegal immigrants and ordinary criminals with reference to their ”Human Rights”, but ignores potential victims and in the process of this inequality also ignores the individual state’s rights to administer its established laws.

It has become a Court, who prevents the extradition of people, who are proven to be dangerous for the society in which they live, even when they are staying illegally. Again due to “their Human Rights” and without reference to the negative effects on society.

It is a Court that increasingly has implemented its own rules and values, while shunning the laws of the participating member states.

In fact, it has developed exactly along the same lines as the European Union, whose metamorphosis over the last 30 years has created a self-propagating monster with a deliberate lack of respect for the national states that make up its body.

In both cases a conscious lack of democracy and a focus on own goals and ideas, far from the original concept, flourish, while the participating national entities let it happen without much protest, letting the option of making their own decisions disappear in an empty space.
I find this dangerous, wrong and totally contrary to the ideas and values that have created our modern, West European welfare states.

It is a good example of the “Syndrome of the Boiling Frog”.
Drop a frog in very hot water – and it jumps out.
But drop it in cold water while heating it slowly and it will not discover what is going on before it is too late.
Such is the classic reaction to change – also amongst human beings.

I suggest it is high time to reconsider the operation of both the European Court of Human Rights and the European Union. Both are on a path to become colossuses on clay feet, but it would suit us better to reorganise them in an orderly fashion, than to let them collapse in an uncontrolled way – which they otherwise will.

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