judge-hammerShould the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) be reduced to an advisory body? As well as renegotiating Britain’s relationship with the European Union, the governing Conservative Party would also like to change the UK’s relationship with the Strasbourg-based court, threatening to withdraw British membership of the ECHR unless rulings are made non-binding in future.

Three high-profile ECHR judgements have drawn particular criticism in the UK. Firstly, the court has ruled that prisoners should not be denied the vote; secondly, that life imprisonment should always include the possibility of review and parole, and thirdly that the deportation of terrorist suspect Abu Qatada to face trial in Jordan could not happen because evidence obtained by torture might be used against him.

Critics believe that the court has too much power and infringes upon the sovereignty of its members. However, supporters argue that if the UK pulls out it will place it in breach of its international obligations (EU Member States must also be signatories of the ECHR, and the European Commission has threatened to suspend British voting rights in the EU if it pulls out). They also argue it will send a message to the world that Britain doesn’t care about human rights violations.

Out of 1,652 cases concerning the UK last year, in only eight cases did the court rule that there had been at least one violation of human rights. In other words, the UK wins the overwhelming majority of cases taken against it, losing only 0.4% of cases.

Between 1959 and 2013, the ECHR has passed a total of 499 judgements onto the UK. By comparison, Turkey has had almost 3,000 judgements made against it, and the Russian Federation almost 1,500. If Britain leaves the ECHR, would more countries follow? In Russia, the Chairman of the Constitutional Court, Valery Zorkin, has also said he supports a mechanism to make ECHR judgements non-binding on his country.

Should human rights rulings by the ECHR be legally binding? Does the Strasbourg-based court have too much power? And what kind of message would British withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights send? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – ssalonso

62 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Vasilis Siadimas

    they should be binding, especially on countries with problematic legal rules like mine (Greece)…its a tool to raise our standards

  2. avatar
    Ivan Burrows

    Vasilis Siadimas

    It’s a tool of forced assimilation against the wishes of the peoples of Europe & Great Britain.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @Ivan Burrows:

      Ignorance on this matter is rife in the UK. The Human Rights legislation was written by mostly UK lawyers. We have always had legilation against what the Human Rights Act covers. But, the UK wants to absolve itself of the threat of compensation for torture and illegal acts against humanity. or, having any one of its leaders face the Hague for colluding in a warring treaty with the USA. The collusion by our government in all manner of torture is not only unconscionable but grotesque from such a once proud nation of people who have fought for so long against slavery and various other acts of gross inhumanity occuring outside its our own borders, but, now taking place within it. What do you think our secret courts are all about? And why they want rid of the ECHR from their back yard.

      We are a country in devastating decline and you are foolishly going along with your own annihilation.

  3. avatar
    Rita Giannini

    first, we make the Court’s rulings not binding, then we argue that there is no point in having a Court if its rulings are not binding, and at the end we get rid of the Court: it is a slippery slope! I think the idea is totally barmy

  4. avatar
    James McManama

    Ivan – Forced assimilation into upholding human rights? And just why are human rights such a terrible thing? Could it be because the ECHR also upholds the human rights of minorities? Should law always be a case of what the majority thinks is right?

  5. avatar
    James McManama

    Ivan – What about constitutionalism? Laws are also there to protect the rights of minorities, not just majorities.

  6. avatar
    Paul X

    “They also argue it will send a message to the world that Britain doesn’t care about human rights violations”

    Absolute garbage, Britain cares about proper human rights applied with common sense, not what some unrepresentative bunch of self important nobodies decree to be a human right

  7. avatar

    The European court of human rights is not being used to protect the raped woman, or the robbery victim, it is being used by CRIMINALS & TERRORISTS who face the hammer of the law in the form of enrpisonment, deportation etc. and they use this court as a means to get off, and this court time and time again has let them off, dont get me wrong, ofcourse I believe in human rights, but human rights were not created to protect criminals, they were created to protect humans because it was known that they could face discrimination, slavery, persecution and even murder because of their race, religion or political beliefs and the concept of human rights was to make it clear to leaders that their powers dont give them the right to do whatever they choose, there is a limit, that this limit is now being used and abused by criminals who dont give a damn about human rights except when the law is coming to punish them & that they can use this to get off is a damn shame and that the political and legal establishment has allowed this to happen has actually weakend the concept of human rights, because now people for the first time in a long time laugh and joke yeah human rights like that terrorist that got off, yeah yeah very human rightsy, whose human rights is this court trying to protect! Surely not the victims! Surely not Society! These high & mighty judges on their moral apostle trip do not have the knowledge or authority to decide over such things and they have shown this time and time again. Maybe this court can be effective for 3rd world countries and dictatorships that have no real belief or understanding of human rights, but for 1st world countries that already believe in human rights this court is a unnecessary instance which is deciding on matters that these countries courts already decided on. Is the goal to go to court so often until the defendant gets his desired verdict?
    Why should nations that already believe in human rights and that protect them subject themselves to this meddling and loss of Souvereignity, is a British,French,Swiss citizen etc. less safe without this court?!?, does anyone in their right mind believe this crap.

  8. avatar
    Pieter DeConinck

    The European Court of Human Rights should be abolished. all it does is keep inventing new “human rights”.

  9. avatar

    Should European human rights rulings be non-binding on governments?

    Absolutely NO. If you didn’t know among the 28 states there are some were Human Rights and Civil Liberties are still refused because the alleged “War on Corruption” open the gate wide for unthinkable (in the year of Our Lord 2014) abuses and injustice. Everybody in the Union has to have the right of a fair trial. Therefore a Super Court is needed just for this purpose and this purpose only.

  10. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    It was never meant to allow murderers and rapists to avoid being deported by claiming the right to a family life.

  11. avatar
    Esa Oksman

    ECHR is one of the few EU organs that should have absolute power to override the rulings and decisions of national institutions. I hope that the rulings of it will stay binding on national governments.

    • avatar
      Jette Mae Abildgaard

      Agree 100% AND, binding and not least reachable for EVERYONE of us and not as it is now….SMALL and INSANE Governments using miscarriage of Justice SO extreme nobody ever get any chance of reaching this Court which is exactly what happens in Europe (and elsewhere…e.g. USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia etc) right now and this has to be STOPPED sooner rather than later!

  12. avatar

    There is no point in the court’s existence if its rulings are non-binding.

  13. avatar
    Ivan Vikalo

    binding obviously… you can’t have a legal system without binding laws! who came up with this stupid idea!? this is the basics of case law which is insanely important in every single country with rule of law as its basic governing principle…

  14. avatar

    This is just manufactured fuel for the common English jingoist who would condemn the Union for saving babies from a fire..

    • avatar

      Did you just speak the Conservatives’ middle name?

    • avatar

      expect hate from UKIP clowns.

    • avatar

      Russia is a fascist state now.
      Dictator – check
      media freedom none – check
      militarisman conquest – check
      powerful oligarchy – check

      Want me to go on?

  15. avatar
    Antinazi Archimedes

    ECHR is a political tool. At most only 2% of all applicants will be accepted by ECHR. As real as your fake democracy.

  16. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    Should the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) be reduced to an advisory body?

    Complicated but- YES- the many reasons are:

    Since the ECHR has ruled that prisoners should NOT be denied the vote; secondly, that life imprisonment (Murderers) should always include the possibility of review and parole, and thirdly that the deportation of terrorist (Killers) Qatada to face trial in Jordan…..has shamefully disqualified this institution! It should only be viewed as just another opinion! The adopted “CONSTITUTION” of each Member state prevails and reflects the morality of the “epoch”- for all its citizens. WWII was a watershed for all!

    The foundation of the HR culture was laid when the UN General Assembly adopted a Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948/1966 and installed the UN Human Rights Council. More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights

    In practice, the UN is unable to take significant action against human rights abuses without a Security Council resolution- this is subject to the veto rights of the P5. Therefore, HRC can investigate but decisions still depend on the 5 permanent UN Members. The ECHR will remain an UN copy, an advisory body in need to be financed by someone!

    The ICJ (International Court of Justice) incorporating the Rome Statue was installed by the UN General Assembly and Permanent Court of Arbitration. This Court applies international law, international custom, and the “general principles of law recognized by civilized nations”

    All 193 UN member nations- surely are able to access all these institutions- if they so desire. The European Union (EU) in contrast is not an UN member, does not have voting rights but it is represented alongside its 28 members having only enhanced observer status since 1974.

    The ECHR, was adopted within the context of the Council of Europe and all its 47 member states and are contracting parties to this Convention (1959/1998)- not the EU! Its members have adopted these UN principles together with UN membership. The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) is not related to the European Court of Human Rights.

    What could one conclude?

    In order not to duplicate/copy UN institutions & transplant them into newly formed blocks/Unions- why need the ECHR be a separate entity & not remain just a “branch office” of the UN?

    All duplication contributes to empire building; increased cost, but do not enhance access or improve justice for all citizens equally. The only improvement would be, if all costs for ordinary citizens would be scraped, to enable them to utilize these institutions freely. As long as money is the key for access- justice for all remains meaningless!

  17. avatar
    Isaac Gabriella

    for most of the Governments, including Romania, is not binding! monitor the enforcement of these rules and you’ll find no change into national legislation after the Court decision

    • avatar

      For Romania it should be an international crime to NOT respect the ECHR’s decisions.
      Our politicians don’t care for it right now.

  18. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    in many sides of Democratic Europe in European human rights law is not respected I believe that europe needs a new federalist geography in the area human rights many European do their duties within their community and when seeking rights often elites of European political power are abandoned citizens of Europe can not be abandoned for you luck

  19. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    NO, not in its current form as Strasbourg is corrupt!

    Untrained diplomats have been appointed as judges.

    Legal decisions are mysteriously delayed in the hope that a change of [an EU country] government will look more favourably on a currently unsavoury judgement.

    ‘Human likes’ have trumped ‘Human Rights’.

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      @Tarquin- My dear island friend,

      Please let’s re-cap: ….if the question was (trickily) “negatively” set (-*- is +) …. ”non binding” on gove’s?-”- than, by answering in the negative- “NO”- actually means- YES, they should be binding- was that your intention or an unintentional mind slip (which we all have at times)- which contradicts what follows?

      “…………that’s what friend are for!?”

  20. avatar

    The problem with the current system is what a load of clever lawyers have turned it into in some instances, a system used by criminals to avoid the full force of national law.
    Is a shared European system to protect Human rights a good thing? Yes, the countries which have already got the highest of standards can be justifiably be proud they don’t need to change, and the rest have a standard to work to.
    Should it be a way of escaping justice or circumventing the law (national or EU) in even a single case? No.

  21. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    @EU Reform- Proactive
    My dear incontinent-alist. I was hoping that you would not spot my double-negative faux pas, c’est la vie! :(

    However, I humbly accept your correction – I would only ask that you do likewise in the future as you have failed to do so in the past otherwise it’s not cricket old bean.

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      @Tarquin, M d i f, ………o.k, its for you to bowl now- I do humbly likewise- as long it is not a ‘difference in opinion’- which can happen, even in the best of family!
      Spotting & correcting ‘genuine’ mistakes- is like ‘positive’ education!

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @EU Reform- Procative
      My incontinent-alist freund.

      FTR I challenge opinion, I correct inexactitude.

      BTW. is there such a concept as NEGATIVE EDUCATION bearing in mind your last post?


    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      @Tarquin -m d i f……is (brainwashing)- whatever presents itself as counter productive to: “positive learning”, in which I include: “Outcomes based”, “Project based” & “Deeper Learning”!


      ……remember: “wide” or “no” balls don’t count! You can bowl, or LBW trap me!

      Meaning, if translated by adhering to “topic”: “Project based”- newly rejuvenated, focused & successful ~up to 50 Member “EEC/European Economic Community”, parachuting all dead ballast, treaties and counterproductive baggage like “ECHR”…& more- including superfluous pedantry, pc, supranational trickery theft of members competences, &, & ……!

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @EU Reform- Proactive
      Unusually for you my dear incontinent-alist friend, your post’s link appeared a tad off-topic re NEGATIVE EDUCATION – I deem your riposte a no-ball! ;)

  22. avatar

    European people have lived better with the civil rights of their nation states than now with the foreign imposed “human rights” which, the way the are politically practiced, basically serve the interest of international organizations not the European people. Just the opposite, this kind of “human rights” deprive the European people of the right to decide democratically whom they want to accept or not to live in their communities.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @ Bastian:

      The ECHR should not be open to those seeking residency in the EU or any state that has an immigration policy that excludes them from their borders. If a man is an illegal, for whatever reason, he should apply to ECHR for justice from his country of origin. Not from within the country he has gained access illegally to.

      A court that wants to claim it is a ‘world’ court must have the full permission of the ‘world’ it plans to rule over before it should be able to function on any level. And, what is not being addressed here is, this court was set up to speed up and promote world government, or, globalisation. And that such a court, akin to NATO, is the project of a force that is determined to impose on Europe and the European people an acceptance of an alien cultures, regardless of whether such cultures are in their best interests.

      Additionally, this concept has been spread into every aspect of our lives, with an attempt to ban any voicing of discontent by the people against it. To the point, in my country where the threat is incarceration should they openly oppose it. Not only that, our children are being indoctrinated daily in their schools with this ethos.

  23. avatar

    @Catherine Benning

    Certainly, Catherine, as often you are so right. What you have in the UK is more and more the same here in Central Europa. Mass immigration is creating ethnic segregation and creeping devastation in our cities. Although, there was already some segregation along class lines in the past, one could move and basically settle anywhere in the city space, now immigration from all parts of the world is more and more limiting the space where indiginous Europeans can live. Those who can move out to the surrounding countryside, the rest is left with the option to vote for parties who promis tougher measures against immigration. However, it remains to be seen what such parties really will do when in power.

    In this, in many ways detrimental situation for the native population the “human rights” argument is the strongest suppressive weapon against their vital interests. At the same time this obvious political abuse of “human rights” by the EU and national establishment increasingly delegitimizes these rights (togeher with their protagonists) in broad circles of the population. It is one of the strongest sources for the growing discontent with the EU.

  24. avatar

    I support making its decisions non-binding.

    This particular human rights court or whatever its called always sides with criminals, foreigners and assorted immigrants at the expense of local population.

    No non-national court should ever have jurisdiction over anything.

    • avatar

      You and that other fascist stooge, Ivan aare the only people even thinking of undermining a body of regulaation that has given rights to everyone of us..even you.
      Ignorance is mindboggling…

    • avatar

      Seems you never run out of ad hominems, do you?

      Well you evidently need them as your capacity for rational arguments seems about zero.

      Being pro-EU (and thus anti-democracy) seems to have a debilitating effect on some people.

  25. avatar

    You got it backwards, the ruling should be above national parliaments.
    Neo-liberalism’s encroachment on rights and freedoms is incredibl.
    Corporations are persons with RIGHTS and now REAL persons, REAL people are being stripped of rights nd we even got fascist stooges like Ivan ( fitting name foreshadowing thee russian fascism going on in that country ) cheering for the average bloke’s enslavement.

  26. avatar
    catherine benning

    A ruling from the ECHR as an equaliser should be to ban any country within the EU who does not pay the same amount of benefits to its citizens as the state with the highest payouts. Regardless of their pretence at inability to do so. This would enable citizens to remain in their homeland rather than have to uproot themselves from that homeland unless they had a genuine desire to be part of a cultural life offered in their country of choice.

    It should be a human right court ruling that all states must pay in welfare benefits, minimum wage and healthcare exactly the same amount or higher than the UK does to its citizens, including Housing Benefit, Child Benefit, Tax credits, Council Tax and all other and any benefits the UK offers its citizens, through their tax payments. Additionally, all states must have the same offer of free healthcare at the point of delivery, exactly the same way as the UK, paid for by the same National Insurance system within the UK. That way the court will have gained what it set out to do, give equality to all European citizens no matter their place of birth.

    This would immediately end the need for the UK to vote on pulling out of the European Union. It is absolutely unfair to expect the British citizens to give up these benefits they pay for and have fought so hard to have, simply because we are part of a club that did not divulge its true agenda when asking us to vote to be part of it.

    Additionally, when the UK public did vote to be part of this Union they were not advised that Brussels would forcibly change their standard of living to a level of poverty they haven’t seen since the dark ages, in order to accommodate those from countries joining the club who were unable to afford to keep their people on a level we had achieved. So, the British people voted for this union on lies by omission. The ethos of a united Europe was always to expand in order to absorb as many countries as it could, without first ensuring they could economically stand equally within the framework.

    By setting this union up the way Europe has, the ECHR could never act in lawful fairness, as the entire system is absolutely unfair to an enormous sector of its population by having imposed on its citizens a financial drain that is unsustainable. In fact the political ignorance in all of this is bringing Europe and its people to third world poverty. And the UK government is right to want to extricate itself from such a lunatic bunch of blinkered idiots.

    Additionally, to encourage the world to follow suit, by promoting mass immigration into Europe from countries that also do not have benefits for their citizens should be ended at once. This includes all Commonwealth countries. That way the need for people to move from their country of origin for economic reasons would end.

    This would dramatically reduce the heavy load of cases from the ECHR. In fact it would solve a great deal of the mass migration pattern throughout the world.

    The basis of this argument boils down to four equal parts. Equality across the union must be established and rule in every aspect of it.

    1) Welfare must be equal across the union.

    2) Wages, pricing and taxation must be standardised.

    3) Banking regulations must comply across the entire system in favour of the consumer, without whose support they would not exist.

    4) Remove the insanity of political correctness it is a hindrance to progress not an enhancer to humanity.

    The Global ponzi scheme must end before there can be any ‘need’ for the ECHR or will allow it to work.

  27. avatar

    They should not be binding. Just look at one of the most recent rulings against the parot doctrine in Spain. Murderers and rapists where let out of jail, and several of them have commited the same crimes they where jailed for. The judges should now face the new victims and explain to them why they ruled in favor of letting criminals go free to be able to commit the same crimes and creating new victims.

  28. avatar

    En España se viola sistemáticamente el derecho a la vivienda, a la propiedad privada, al domicilio… y muchos ingleses están padeciendo las consecuencias del engaño de las administraciones españolas. Gracias a que existe CEDH y la jurisprudencia del TEDH, los ciudadanos europeos nos sentimos protegidos. Si no existira nada de esto, el abuso de poder de los gobiernos sería insoportable.

  29. avatar
    George Yiannitsiotis

    The collapse of the Berlin Wall made some policy makers in the West thinking of the European Court of Human Rights be degraded to an advisory body instead of compulsory for the adhered to the European Convention on Human Rights states. Peculiar?
    Of course not! Think of the ECHR ruling against measures imposed by the Troica in countries like Greece; measures that de facto deprive their citizens of fundamental Human Rights (e.g. the right to private property)! What should be the impact on the ECB-EU Commission?
    Therefore, even the slightest thought for depriving the compulsory character of the Court or the right of citizens to appeal to it, are suspect to highly aggressive to Human Rights policies masterminded by deeply undemocratic, neo-nazionalist think-tanks.

  30. avatar

    This is truly useful, thanks.

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