Tag Archives: European Court of Human Rights

Why is the UK leaving the EU?

“Does anyone know why the UK is leaving the EU?” someone asked.

This was my answer:

From where I’m sitting, the UK is leaving the EU because, in no particular order:
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Abortion and human rights at Holyrood

Vigil for Savita HalappanavarYesterday, in anticipation of abortion law being devolved to Holyrood, a familiar coalition launched.

They’re SPUC Scotland and CARE Scotland; also three religious bodies, the Catholic Church in Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland, and the Scottish Muslim Council; and two purely anti-choice groups: the Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline (ARCH), Cardinal Winning’s Pro-life initiative.

Anyone who followed the campaign to lift the ban on same-sex marriage in Scotland will know what the organisations in this coalition are about. (SPUC and CARE on same-sex marriage.)

John Deighan, who campaigned against same-sex marriage as the Parliamentary Officer for the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, became the chief executive of SPUC Scotland in April 2015. The Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, also a vicious campaigner against same-sex marriage, said then:

“John has provided dedicated and energetic service to the church in Scotland for sixteen years and we wish him well in his new role. His ability to skilfully analyse political development and track legislative changes has been immensely helpful to the Bishops’ Conference. The links between the church and the SPUC in Scotland are already strong, but they will be strengthened and renewed as a result of John’s appointment.”

Many, if not most, Catholics, Muslims, and Presbyterians fully support a woman’s right to make her own decisions about terminating or continuing her pregnancy: just as many Catholics, Muslims, and Presbyterians supported the right of same-sex couples to legally wed and receive the same rights, responsibilities, and benefits as mixed-sex couples. That the leadership of these religious bodies sees fit to campaign against human rights in Scotland, shouldn’t smear all the adherents of these religions as against human rights.
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Human rights: the right to vote

Ben Jennings - prisoners votesYesterday, for the fourth time, the European Court of Human Rights ruled again that the UK is in breach of human rights by having a blanket ban on allowing convicted prisoners serving a custodial sentence the right to vote: it’s nearly ten years now since the UK was first ordered to make some change in this ban, and neither Labour nor Conservatives have cared to do so. (The ECHR has made no order for monetary compensation, which is the only thing likely to move either party.)

In October 2014, there were 7,755 prisoners serving a custodial sentence in Scotland: the imprisonment rate in Scotland is 147 out of 100,000 people (via the Howard League). Since August 2010, there has been a statutory presumption against convicted criminals being sentenced to short periods of imprisonment, unless the court can show reason why this should be so. From the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010

“a court must not pass a sentence of imprisonment for a term of three months or less on a person unless the court considers that no other method of dealing with the person is appropriate.”

If a person goes to jail, it will under most circumstances be because they committed an offence that the court decided mandated a sentence of four months at least. The general rule for any sentence of 12 months or less is that a prisoner will be released automatically on probation after they have served half their sentence.
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Filed under Elections, Human Rights

Let prisoners have the vote: yes or no?

By Friday 23rd November, MPs will have to decide whether the UK should be in defiance of an ECHR ruling or David Cameron.

David Cameron says:

“no-one should be in any doubt: prisoners are not getting the vote under this Government.”

Prisoners votingLord Lester of Herne Hill, a QC who sits on the Commission on a Bill of Rights, said

offering a ban was merely political posturing, and it was inevitable prisoners would get the right to vote.

Asked if the Government would have to the vote to prisoners in some form, he told The Daily Telegraph: “Of course – either that or we are in the same position as in Greece under junta. Greece had to leave the Council of Europe.

Please note that it’s not even a question that “all prisoners must have the vote” – it’s perfectly legitimate to ban some prisoners from voting. Continue reading

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Filed under Elections, Feng Shui Kitten Fixes Stuff, Human Rights

Talking to prolifers

Edinburgh abortion rights outside Merchant's Hall - SavitaSavita Halappanavar went to Galway University Hospital on 21st October with severe back pain, to be told she was miscarrying. She was 17 weeks pregnant. For three days of agony she and her husband requested an abortion – the foetus was still alive but had no chance of survival – but the medical staff refused: there was still a foetal heartbeat. He said they were told that this was the law and that “this is a Catholic country”. After three days the foetus was dead and the prolife medical team removed it, but too late to save Savita Halappanavar’s life: she died of septicaemia on 28th October.

Edinburgh Abortion Rights protest - outside Merchants Hall

The protest last night outside Merchant’s Hall in Hanover Street had been planned well before Savita Halappanavar died: it was in response to the first meeting of the Alliance of Pro-Life Students.

This is an organisation that intends, in its own words, to “invest in the future”:

Students are the nation’s future leaders and professionals. The next generation of doctors, lawyers, parents, teachers, nurses, politicians, engineers and artists will go on to build a pro-life society with a profound and lasting respect for human life.

By “respect for human life” they mean the ethos that let Savita Halappanavar die in agony.
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Filed under Equality, Human Rights, Justice, Racism, Women

Our constitution, July 2012: European Convention of Human Rights

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

“Guaranteed rights based on European Convention”

I love the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a religious person might love Scripture.

Drafted in 1948, sixty-four years old on 10th December this year, it is still a radical and inspirational document.

I find the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms less inspirational and less radical, even though it’s not even 5 years younger.
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Filed under Elections, European politics, Human Rights, Scottish Constitution, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

Lord Carey is lying

Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, is bearing witness to the European Court of Human Rights that the UK is “a country where Christians can be sacked for manifesting their faith, are vilified by state bodies, are in fear of reprisal or even arrest for expressing their views on sexual ethics, something is very wrong. It affects the moral and ethical compass of the United Kingdom. Christians are excluded from many sectors of employment simply because of their beliefs; beliefs which are not contrary to the public good.”

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Exodus 20.16

Lord Carey is not talking about Christians at prayer being dragged from the steps of St Pauls by riot police a few weeks ago. That aspect of the moral and ethical compass of the UK is apparently of less than no concern to him.

He’s talking about a nurse who wanted to wear chain jewellery, which is not allowed whether or not a cross hangs from the chain; a flight attendant who wanted to wear chain jewellery outside her uniform, which was not allowed whether or not a cross hangs from her chain; about a man who lied to his employer in order to get special training; and about a woman who wished to be allowed to refuse to do her job because she didn’t like gay people.

Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. Exodus 23.1

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