On June 23rd the British public voted to leave the European Union. This came as a shock for many of us. It also brings to light a series of further questions: What about free movement? What about trade? What will happen to EU citizens already in the UK? What about the European Convention on Human Rights?
As a member of the Council of Europe, the UK is bound to the The European Convention on Human Rights. The EU and the Council of Europe are two different bodies. Phew, what a relief many of us might be inclined to think.
However, and this is the but, lawyers fear what the future holds post-Brexit regarding the ECHR and Britain. There has been talk about pulling out and adopting a British Bill of Rights. The Human Rights Act (1998) – which the British government have been looking at scrapping for a long time – is the partial incorporation of the ECHR into domestic law and ideas are based on replacing this with this potential British Bill of Rights (see here for full details). We quite rightly should be worried. Theresa May – the new British PM – when working as Home Secretary prior to the referendum on leaving the EU stated the following:
It isn’t the EU we should leave but the ECHR and the jurisdiction of its court
This is very shocking indeed. The ECHR is an important, powerful instrument which I often feel is undervalued by the British public and is clearly undermined by British politicians. Human rights are being eroded in the UK. Those affected include disabled citizens, “Skype families” of mixed EU and non-EU families being forced to live apart and those on low incomes and benefits. It is time to get vocal and stand up for the ECHR.
I was shown a fantastic sketch made by The Guardian starring Patrick Stewart, which I urge you to watch entitled: “What has the ECHR ever done for us?” Well, that’s a good question. You can check out the video below for the answer:
So, what has the ECHR ever done for us? Well, a lot and we need it!
Here are 20 rights it enshrines; rights which offer us freedom, hope and equality:
1. The right to life
2. Freedom from torture
3. Freedom from slavery and forced labour
4. The right to liberty and security
5. The right to a fair trial
6. Punishment to be enforced only by law
7. The right to respect for private and family life
8. Freedom of thought, conscience of religion
9. Freedom of expression
10. Freedom of assembly and association
11. The right to marry
12. The right to an effective remedy
13. Freedom from discrimination
14. The right to education
15. The right to free elections
16. Prohibition of imprisonment for debt
17. Freedom of movement
18. Prohibition of expulsions of nationals
19. The right of appeal in criminal matters
20. Compensation for wrongful convictions
So, spread the word and let’s raise the profile of support for the Human Rights Act and the ECHR. Sign and share the following petition and blog and tweet away!
Feature image: Portal gda