Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Kill the Bill

So who is right? David Cameron when he says: "Abolish the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights, which sets out rights and responsibilities", or Downing street, which replies: "Gordon Brown would not alter the legislation. A spokesman said: "The Government has made its position clear many times."

Should the Conservatives challenge the odds and win the next General Election, a new Bill of Rights would be high on the agenda. In fact, I have a meeting next month with James Brokenshire, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, so it will be interesting to see how the argument develops in the light of both the Stephen Lawrence case and of course the whole debate over increasing anarachy on the streets of Britain.

But if we scrap the Bill of Rights can we trust any government of any colour to give us something better?


Anonymous said...

I am a little confused with the arguments in this issue. If we bin the Human Rights Act and replace it with a tailored Bill of Rights, we still have European Law that has precedence in our so-called Sovreign State and the judiciary has to follow that precedence. The real issue is to regain our Freedom from the restrictive chains imposed by Brussels. For me it is quite simple; be part of Europe but not governed by Europe.

DrMoores said...

Sounds good to me and quite possibly the great majority of a fed-up British population too!

Anonymous said...

I thought they already had abolished it.

Michael Child said...

Researching what looked to me like the most interesting Thanet story at the moment that of the highly paid heritage consultant that resigned from TDC over safety issues and trying to find out about the level of danger I came up against one of these peculiar conundrums that occur when British government organisations try to deal with EEC legislation.

The British Government signed a European Norm that has become British Standard (BS EN 12811) in 2003. On one of the final pages it states, that the scaffolding material, which is prescribed by the norm is not available in Britain.

That means the government created a BS, which is not valid, because the basic requirements are, i.e. having the safe scaffolding, is not fulfilled.

Scaffolding that compiles with the EEC norm must be attached to the building with screws and plugs.

To further complicate the issue English Heritage doesn't want to have any screws or plugs in their holy heritage.

So the question is, it safe to open a sash window 50 mm and to put through a pole to support the scaffolding for buildings on the seafront subject to gales?

It must be obvious that good conservation work is only possible on a safe scaffold, and certainly none of us want anything heavy falling on us, this seems to be a local instance of UK gov and EEC producing a potentially dangerous situation by playing with each others red tape.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Ed, "anarchy in britain" is that the new conservative slogan to replace "broken britain".
Come to think of it Mussolini campained on a similiar platform, but it was his guys causing the anarchy.
He also promised to make the trains run on time.

DrMoores said...

It's the headline from Monday' "Sun" newspaper I think!

Mind you.. vote me in to No10 and I promise to have the trains running on time!!!

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that Cameron has jumped on this issue without appearing to understand where the real problem lies. We could repeal the Human Rights Act, but as the original commenter noted Europe is the real problem. We signed up to freedom of movement. Or rather the government did so on our behalf. This allows "Europeans" to come here and do as they please and vice versa. What I don't understand is the French for example are able to ban people from certain parts of France. Surely if it works for them it should work for us?

Something you probably aren't aware of is the difficulty in preventing Europeans coming to Britain who have convictions for serious crimes. If a European is convicted in Britain of such an offence it is up to the judge to recommend deportation, usually the Home Office requests this. If as happens frequently the request is overlooked and the person is repatriated after serving part of their sentence, they are perfectly at liberty to return to Britain. The immigration officials can do
virtually nothing to prevent them entering.

What this case highlights is just how much European law has supplanted our laws and how increasingly irrelevant our parliament is becoming. If Brown succeeds in signing up to the European Reform Treaty without a referendum then we will cede even more power to Europe without being asked if we mind.

To return to the original story. Many people warned that introducing a Human Rights Act would lead to travesties of justice such as the Shabina Begum school uniform fiasco. Or the endless appeals and abuse of our legal system by failed asylum seekers using this bad legislation (at public expense) to prevent removal. The case of Chindamo may open a few peoples eyes to just how wrong things have become in Britain today where the "rights" of a murderer outweigh those of his victims. However unless we re-examine our relationship with Europe I fear such outrages will become increasingly common.

Doctor Doom said...

You’ll have to explain, Anon 4.47, just how the Human Rights Act (to which any civilized country ought aspire) allows the rights of a murderer to outweigh those of his victims.

Not in any way to belittle the enormity of Chindamo’s crime, but any number of British born criminals have been convicted, sentenced and punished for murders committed. They serve their sentence and are, at the appropriate time, released back into the community, hopefully repentant, hopefully reformed, hopefully rehabilitated.

Chindamo, through an accident of birth over which he had no control, was born in a different country. He wasn’t the stereotypical economic migrant who came to Britain to live off our benefits system. He was brought up in Britain. Our Britain. It was OUR education and social system that produced the illiterate thug that committed the crime in question.

Had he be born in Britain there would be no question of deportation and further punishment after the sentence is served.

The problem here is that we had a particularly high-profile crime (the life of a teacher is apparently more valued than that of ordinary citizens), and a particularly articulate victim’s family. With all due sympathy to them, what makes them so special that they should be able to determine the government’s sentencing policy regarding an individual convict?

Anonymous said...

On the issue of Chindamo, you are absolutely spot on , Dr Doom. I suspect Jack Straw is still in Blairite knee-jerk response! I do however understand people's frustrations with what they perceive as more concern for the perpetrator than for the victim. We all need to realise that the mark of a civilised society is how we actually deal with the felons and the ex-cons etc! We have a duty to them as well and must not confuse this with the lack of support we give to victims.

Anonymous said...

anon again!
I have little sympathy with CRIMINALS. For me, they lost all rights when they committed their crime. When I read the ludicrous reports that a convicted CRIMINAL has received damages... I shudder! It makes a mockery of the Justice system. I am a strong believer in 'punishment fitting the crime'. You can't let a mentally crazed murderer out into the 'normal' life system. He will kill and kill again. Keep the Italian murderer, of Mr Lawrence, IN JAIL in BRITAIN, or in jail in Italy. Don't let him out ever again!

Anonymous said...

Doom how hard is it to grasp? Chindamo potentially could be let out in the near future. The HRA allows him a "right to family life" what about his victims right to family life? Or the family of his victim? Are you deliberately obtuse or just a halfwit?

Doctor Doom said...

Anon 6.54 I put the question again: why should this particular individual, convicted murderer that he undeniably is, be treated differently from someone convicted of a comparable crime who was born in this country?

WHEN Chindamo is released, as he must be at some stage, it will be because he has served his time as determined under the ENGLISH legal system (nothing to do with Europe or the HRA), just as any British-born criminal would be.

A twelve year minimum sentence may well be considered inadequate, but that's a separate issue that has nothing to do with Europe, the HRA or the victim's family.

The so-called rights of the victim's family would not be an issue if Chindamo had been born in Britain, or if the victim had not been a high profile middle-class professional.

Chindamo is being singled out for ADDITIONAL punishment because he has a foreign passport.

DrMoores said...

Keep the conversation polite please; language as an instrument of acerbic wit etc...!

James Maskell said...

As I understand it, the HRA was part of the case but the bit that ensured that Chindamo was allowed to stay was an EU Directive. Because Chindamo came from Italy initially, he is an EU resident so deportation is harder to stick.

Perhaps something to throw into the mix is the protest by "No Borders" around Gatwick, which calls for the abolition of all national borders and immigration controls.

Anonymous said...

oh dear, here we are again discussing the rights of the perpetrator and have totally forgotten the the victim has been left with NOTHING at all...not even his life! Who cares where this thug was born, keep him locked up or bring back hanging!! (I'm sure the Italians dont want him either!!).

Doctor Doom said...

No-one is forgetting, ignoring or otherwise belittling the loss of the victim / victim's family in this or any other case, 3.09, and neither I nor the other contributors have suggested Chindamo's release should go ahead at this stage.

What's at issue here is a fundamental issue of how a civilized society handles its criminals.

Any sentencing policy, regarding any crime, should be made based on rational, informed decisions. Pandering to headlines and exploiting the emotional distress of the victim's family ill-becomes Cameron or Straw, and sadly shows neither the Conservatives nor post-Blair New Labour have raised their ethical standards one iota.

As for a return to barbaric practices like hanging - this is nothing more than state-sanctioned murder, that would make us no better than the criminals we seek to condemn.

It's no coincidence that countries with the highest levels of capital punishment tend to have the highest rates of violent crime...

Anonymous said...

Is it correct to consider deportation for Chindamo? The answer is yes because he is a 'foreign national' and under EU law can be returned to Italy. His legal advisers quite rightly argue that he is not an EU temporary visitor but has been brought up in this country and lived here for most of his life with his family who have right of abode. The judiciary has ruled that his case is an exception to the normal deportation process as a result and uses 'right to family life' and Human Rights Act to support their judgement. This is why we have an independent judiciary so that they can interpret the law in hard cases. Without this process, Government dictat would dominate our existence. Chindamo was and might still be a viscious violent person and will be detained as long as he poses a risk. Once it is decided to release him,is he not entitled to return to a normal life in the only country he knows, Britain? Comparing his 'rights' with his victim's loss of the most basic human right (to life) is irrelevant; Chindamo is in prison for violating that basic right and hopefully will remain there until he no longer poses a threat. Cheap political opportunism that is allowed to hold sway in a judicial process is highly dangerous to the precious few liberties remaining to us.

DrMoores said...

I've just removed a comment from our correspondent who persists on lecturing us here and elsewhere about treason, defense of the realm, the IRA and now the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

I've asked you politely to refrain from using this weblog to soapbox your conspiracy theories, so now I'll simply take them down if they appear. You are of course free to contribute to the thread as long as you remain on subject and don't go wandering off to explosives again!