Law and Rights
View from Strasbourg ~ Paul Mahoney
At the European Court of Human Rights, each member State of the Council of Europe has a judge from that State. Paul Mahoney is the judge from the UK. In the Law Society Gazette he has set out some of his views - Law Society Gazette 11th November - The UK?s judge at the European Court of Human Rights explains how it ?insures? nations against ?backsliding into totalitarian government?
'The Strasbourg court is no longer like some satellite in outer space,? the UK?s judge at the European Court of Human Rights, Paul Mahoney, tells the Gazette
. Its rulings have become ?almost the common law of Europe?, he says, as the 47 member states of the Council of Europe (CoE) integrate them into their national laws.
That is a bold statement
given the UK coalition government?s repeated threats to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (the convention), which it is the court?s responsibility to enforce. The government is regularly incensed by judgments from Strasbourg, where the court is based, allowing ?hate preachers? to appeal their deportations (for example). Another ruling, saying that a blanket ban on prisoners voting was unlawful, even made our prime minister feel ?sick?, or so David Cameron complained.
Mahoney, who replaced Sir Nicolas Bratza in November 2012, has little patience with such ?little England views?. He says: ?The UK is strong enough to absorb the flea bites of judgments that go against us. Our staying within the system is good news for Europe, in particular for member states that, unlike the UK, do not have a history of democracy behind them. The UK is a role model for the democratic protection and promotion of human rights.?
'What does he say to complaints that Strasbourg overrides the sovereignty of parliament? He replies: ?A parliamentary majority would seem to imply a respect for democracy, but that isn?t always the case. Adolf Hitler and, more recently, Morsi in Egypt, were both democratically elected. To ensure the protection of individuals and institutions, you need some sort of international guarantee outside the national system. That is what the CoE and the court do. They are a kind of insurance policy against backsliding into totalitarianism.?
Full article at Law Society Gazette 11th November
Mr Mahoney was elected by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly following the submission of three names by the British government - Strasbourg insider become UK's next human rights judge - Telegraph 28th June 2012
Section II of the European Convention on Human Rights deals with the court and its judges.
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Law and Rights