Paris attacks show need to scrap Human Rights Act, says Tory MP with no understanding of the Human Rights Act

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 15.38.28I will keep this short. David Davies MP (not David Davis MP) has posted on his official blog that the Paris attacks show that the Human Rights Act should be repealed. His reasoning is spurious. He does not understand the law. He misrepresents the Human Rights Act. I will explain why below. But first, here is his post in full:

A few years ago while working a Special Constable in London, I was involved in the arrest of a man who had declared himself to be a member of the Taliban.

He backed up his statement with various documents and photographs of himself in a desert holding weapons with other armed militants.

We radioed for advice and after a while were told to let him go. Apparently he was an asylum seeker whose claim for asylum in Britain was based on his membership of an extremist terrorist group who have taken the lives of hundreds of British soldiers. He was set free to continue his journey across London to meet his lawyers who were no doubt being paid for out of public money.

This incident has always worried me. Under current laws, including the Human Rights Act, anyone can come to the UK and make a claim for asylum.

There must be huge numbers of people in Britain who have been members of extremist Islamic organisations. Some are actually using this as the basis for an asylum claim.

The tragic terrorist attacks in Paris should be a wake up call.We should state that anyone suspected of links with any militant Islamist organisations should be prevented from entry under any circumstance into Britain.

Those who enter illegally should be held in custody until deported to their home country regardless of any penalty they may face there.

Here is the main problem for Mr Davies’ argument. He is wrong to say that “Under current laws, including the Human Rights Act, anyone can come to the UK and make a claim for asylum.” The right to claim asylum is not contained in the Human Rights Act. It is in the the 1951 Refugee Convention. Here is a site which explains what that is. The United Kingdom signed up to it on 28 July 1951.

It requires that signatory states grant asylum to those who demonstrate “a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, and are unable or unwilling to seek protection from the authorities in their own country”.

And! The Convention does not apply to those who has committed a “crime against peace” a “war crime” or a “crime against humanity” (Article 1F). So the example Mr Davies uses is itself spurious. That rule is enforced in our law – see for example this post.

As far as I am aware, no MP is (yet) arguing we should withdraw from the Refugee Convention.

So withdrawing from the Human Rights Act would not address the problem which Mr Davies identifies.

Yes, asylum seekers often also attempt to use the Human Rights Act in order to obtain leave to remain in the UK, for example if they face the risk of ill-treatment in their home country. But let me repeat – the right to claim asylum is contained elsewhere and will remain despite repeal of the Human Rights Act.

There are other points which can be made. Such as the fact that along with protecting people coming to the UK from dangerous countries, the Human Rights Act does a huge amount more – including protecting free expression of the press under Article 10, the rights of religious believers under Article 9, the right to life under Article 2, the right not to be tortured under Article 3. But that is perhaps for another day, when someone makes a serious argument that human rights are responsible for the Paris attacks.

MPs have a responsibility to be accurate when the promote the repeal of an important law. Mr Davies’ post is irresponsible, particularly in the charged climate following the Paris attacks. He should remove or amend it, with a clear message that he got it wrong.

Update – see also Dr Mark Elliott’s excellent post on this

19 thoughts on “Paris attacks show need to scrap Human Rights Act, says Tory MP with no understanding of the Human Rights Act

  1. We don’t need to scrap the Human Right’s Act – we need to build a fairer and more tolerant society. Globalisation means that the world has become a salad bowl with distinct and different tastes – perhaps the French satirists weren’t as cool as they thought they were.

  2. Has this post itself been sent to Mr Davies for his reaction? And if so, what has he said in response?

  3. Thank you Mr Davis, MP, for your kind statement. I really did not know until now that the Human Rights Act is for immigrants and foreigners, only! But, even it were, would be a terrorist attack a valid reason to scrap such fundamental act? I am very worried that such poorly educated politicians, as you are, are MPs!

  4. Politics is not and never has been about truth. Its about the manipulation of public perception for political purposes. It relies for its efficacy upon the ‘Milgram’ effect. That is to say, the logical fallacy that an ‘authority’ figure is better informed than the man on the Clapham Omnibus and that his or her statements are reasoned and authoritative. The Politician will assume that any area of public debate is ‘political’. He does so in order to claim exclusive jurisdiction over its direction and having done so, he or she, individually or collectively, invariably proceeds to wreck positive outcomes which would otherwise have been arrived at by reasoned analysis.

    I gave up on the British Politician years ago. They generally have little of value to say and they say it too loudly!

  5. RE:- PERFIDIOUS ALBION AND UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION ON COLONIAL INDEPENDENCE 1960 (AS AMENDED)
    ____________________________________________________________

    The words Perfidious Albion, This is from the 13th Century whilst the United Nations declaration made in 1960, on Independence.

    This has not been taken into account, where it does become legally flawed.

    There is and has been a hatred against the Persons of the Muslim Religion, whilst it is the British, French, German and Portugal who had taken the land in many parts of the world from those area, as we are now living in a different Century which should be taken into consideration.

    I am a person of Muslim Religion, but in accordance with my Belief- I believe in Dialogue and Free Speech. It is wrong to take someone’s property, possession and life by any means what so ever, and the Suicide Bombers should Stop, as there is time to be patience and sacrifice.

    Yours Faithfully

    Ismail Abdulhai Bhamjee

  6. Oh dear. Wrong but not at all surprising.

    What worries me is that those – like you and Mark Elliott – who point out that he’s just completely confused about the law will simply be dismissed as a bunch of soaking-wet liberals who can’t recognise a serious threat to the public when it’s staring them in the face.

    It seems to me that the crux of the current problems over the HRA and the ECHR is that people will only start worrying about human rights and the rule of law if they start being eroded – and by then it will be too late. Or am I just a born pessimist?

  7. This seems a little nit-picky to me. While he did cite the wrong piece of legislature, his point was still valid. He was a special constable, and is now an MP, but he isn’t a lawyer. At the end of the day, the refugee convention is being utilised by terrorists to enter this country, and his statement sits more in reality than the idea that terrorists will stop being terrorists when they come over here.

  8. “The Convention does not apply to those who has committed a “crime against peace” a “war crime” or a “crime against humanity” (Article 1F). So the example Mr Davies uses is itself spurious. That rule is enforced in our law – see for example this post.”

    If this is the case why is a person who openly declares membership of a group that carries out “crimes against peace”, “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” and shows photographic evidence to prove it, not bounced back to whence they came. Rather than spend, probably a considerable amount of time in the country having their case: “Apparently he was an asylum seeker whose claim for asylum in Britain was based on his membership of an extremist terrorist group who have taken the lives of hundreds of British soldiers” decided.

    From the article it is argued he had no case to be heard.

    Perhaps if the Human Rights Act was implemented properly it would receive less criticism.

    It took 9 years to deport Abu Hamza http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/9590016/Key-events-in-battle-to-extradite-Abu-Hamza.html this was a man who was convicted of “11 offences under the Terrorism Act, including incitement to murder and possession of a terrorism document” during this time he was resident in the UK while lawyers were deciding his fate. 9 years is far too long especially when the article states he had no case at all.

  9. Sadly Andrew, I have to agree with you. The old saw of how do you know a politician is lying, his lips are moving should have added to it ‘or he is blogging on yet another subject he knows nothing about.

    In response to Ma January the 8th, well you only have to see the way since 9/11 and 7/7 that Western governments in general rushed to curtail our freedoms in the name of freedom to be saddened but not too surprised at how government will seek ever greater power to curtail its citizens’ rights. Of course, all the while claiming it is for our own good and, through playing on peoples real or imagined fears, being able to get away with claiming that it is all supposedly to protect their freedoms. The reality of course is either about more control over their citizens or protecting themselves against bad press Me cynical, what makes you think that?

Comments are closed.