“UK must not think only of itself”: Massacre families urge UK not to leave ECHR – Alice Donald

24 October 2014 by

Photo credit: Guardian.co.uk

Photo credit: Guardian.co.uk

The Conservative Party’s proposals to introduce a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities that would weaken the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – and the legal chaos that would ensue if it was ever enacted – have been hotly debated. The proposal makes clear that if the Council of Europe was to reject the UK’s unilateral move, as it would be bound to, the UK ‘would be left with no alternative but to withdraw’ from the Convention. 

The policy is highly isolationist. The brief section on the ‘international implications’ of the plan does not pause to consider the impact of withdrawal on the other 46 states on the Council of Europe or the Convention system as a whole. Nor does it address the implications for the UK’s ability to promote human rights and the rule of law in countries with significantly worse human rights records.

This is despite the evident risk of contagion to newer Council of Europe states. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, has argued that if the UK persists in its disrespect for the Strasbourg Court, exemplified by its protracted non-compliance with the judgment on prisoners’ voting rights, this would

… send a strong signal to other member states, some of which would probably follow      the UK’s lead and also claim that compliance with certain judgments is not possible,     necessary or expedient. That would probably be the beginning of the end of the   ECHR system.

The spectre of contagion has now found expression from a surprising source – the bereaved families of the Beslan massacre in 2004, in which 331 people, including 179 children, died after a three-day siege at a school seized by Chechen separatists came to a violent end.

A decade on, the families were in Strasbourg last week for a public hearing in their case against the Russian authorities, which stand accused of failing to prevent the massacre despite having detailed intelligence warnings; compounding the loss of life by the use of indiscriminate weapons such as flame-throwers; and failing to conduct an adequate investigation into the events in order to establish responsibility.

As their case was put by lawyers from the Russian NGO Memorial and the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) based at Middlesex University, bereaved relatives and applicants who were themselves hostages watched and wept, many wearing photographs of their lost loved ones.

‘The UK must not think only of itself’

The applicants, interviewed by EHRAC, spoke eloquently about the importance of the Strasbourg Court to their struggle for justice. Any future UK withdrawal would be a ‘catastrophe’ for the rule of law in Russia, they argue, and would be taken as a green light for President Vladimir Putin to flout Russia’s human rights commitments.

Voiced mainly by Ella Kasayeva, and her sister Emma Tagayeva, who lost two sons and her husband in the massacre, the reflections of the families should make for sobering reading for the UK isolationists.

They are translated below from the original Russian.

The European Court of Human Rights is a benchmark of justice; it is a body that should be seen as an example to everybody … Once they have adopted the European Convention on Human Rights, states should follow it, otherwise chaos will ensue… Beslan happened, and not a single person has been found responsible. We could not find justice in our country; and this again proves that we need such a Court. If even     the Strasbourg Court was not there to support us, it really would be a scary world in which to live.

In the case of Russia, in order to prevent the rise of corruption, it is important that an external body takes decisions, so that the government understands that it has acted wrongly or unfairly. Somebody unbiased from outside must do that, because Putin won’t punish himself… The European Court of Human Rights exists as a deterrent to totalitarian regimes like Russia. It works to deter Putin’s imperialistic behaviour.

 [If the UK was to withdraw], it would be an excuse for our government to say “We don’t want it either!” Putin would point at the UK straight away. It would be a catastrophe. [The UK] has to understand; we all in live in the same world and we all have an impact on one another. The UK must not think only of itself, because this will lead to other countries completely disregarding the rule of law…

It is hard to overestimate the significance of the European Court of Human Rights for the Russian people. It is the only deterrence from this lawlessness. It is our only hope.

Dr Alice Donald is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law and Politics and Middlesex University. Fourteen of the more than 400 Beslan applicants attended the hearing at the European Court of Human Rights on 14 October 2014. They were interviewed by Beth Saffer and Marina van Riel of EHRAC. Their remarks were translated by Nelli Shevchenko of EHRAC.

Sign up to free human rights updates by email, Facebook, Twitter or RSS

Related posts:

1 comment;


  1. Joe Thorpe says:

    The ECHR needs to get some cop on if it wants us to stay in it’s grip & stop interfering with our politics which has nothing to do with human rights & everything to do with a socialist, social engineering European power grab over our institutions & laws. The ECHR sides with terrorists, crooks, murderers, drug dealers & thieves ahead of the human rights of law abiding citizens who’s human right it is to be able to sleep safely in their beds at night!

Comments are closed.

Welcome to the UKHRB


This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.

Subscribe

Categories


Tags


Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 article 263 TFEU Artificial Intelligence Asbestos Assange assisted suicide asylum asylum seekers Australia autism badgers benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Commission on a Bill of Rights common law communications competition confidentiality consent conservation constitution contact order contact tracing contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs costs budgets Court of Protection crime criminal law Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation DEFRA deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention Dignitas diplomacy disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Equality Act 2010 Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Facebook Family Fatal Accidents Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage gay rights Gaza Gender genetics Germany Google Grenfell Gun Control Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Human Rights Watch Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests insurance international law internet inuit Iran Iraq Ireland islam Israel Italy IVF ivory ban Japan joint enterprise judaism judicial review Judicial Review reform Julian Assange jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid legal aid cuts Leveson Inquiry lgbtq liability Libel Liberty Libya lisbon treaty Lithuania local authorities marriage Media and Censorship mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery morocco murder music Muslim nationality national security naturism neuroscience NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges Obituary parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury physician assisted death Piracy Plagiarism planning planning system Poland Police Politics Pope press prison Prisoners prisoner votes Prisons privacy Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries quarantine Radicalisation rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe

Disclaimer


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

%d bloggers like this: