Today I have introduced a presentation bill to temporarily withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, under Article 58.
This bill is being presented as a response to the situation caused by the European Court of Human Rights refusing to sanction the British Supreme Courts ruling that the extremist Abu Qatada should be deported back to Jordan and face trial in his home country.
The aim of this legislation is to allow the United Kingdom to temporarily withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights so the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Abu Qatada can be upheld. Once this is done there will be the option for the United Kingdom to go straight back in to the European Convention on Human Rights. This course of action is in line with Article 58 of the convention, so the deportation would not only be legal it would also not put us in conflict with the European Court of Human Rights.
Of course I would ideally like and in the future I will campaign for a British Bill of rights and a complete withdrawal from the European Convention on Human rights. This would allow the United Kingdom Supreme Court to be the ultimate decision maker not the European Court of Human Rights.
In practice the bill would be passed in Parliament first. Then the council of Europe would be given six months notice that the United Kingdom would withdraw from the convention, this is in line with the requirements under Article 58. In this six month period it is highly likely that the Council of Europe would fight tremendously hard to keep the United Kingdom in the convention. They would move heaven and earth to find a solution to allow Abu Qatada to be deported back to Jordan. Therefore, in practice the United Kingdom would not actually withdraw from the convention as the threat of doing so will be enough to force the court to allow the extremist Abu Qatada to be sent back to Jordan. However, if some sort of compromise like this does not occur then the United Kingdom would legally be within its rights to send the extremist Abu Qatada back home.
I believe that the Human rights of British men, women and children should come first before a non-national extremist. Therefore action needs to be taken now to ensure that the Government has the power to deport the extremist Abu Qatada.
There of course is precedent for this action. In 1985 under the stewardship of Margaret Thatcher, Britain withdrew from Unesco, the United Nations’ educational and cultural arm, and rejoined in 1997. More recently Tony Blair in 2003 considered denunciation and re ratification of the convention in line with article 58, in relation to the Chahal case. Therefore there is a precedent for putting in motion the procedure to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights.
My bill is being supported by Douglas Carswell MP, Bill Cash MP, Philip Davies MP, Nigel Dodds MP, Philip Hollobone MP, David Nuttall MP and Andrew Turner MP .