Opened in 1959, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) maintains the significance of the European Convention on Human Rights by imposing it upon the 47 European countries.
Gherson explains how the Human Rights Act affects immigration laws, in particular. Given the situation wherein British immigration denies a person’s application for permission to enter the country, the person can appeal in court, for the refusal breaches his or her human right. With this, there has been an abundance of case laws from the UK’s senior courts, as the law passes through an evaluation from the ECHR, eventually studied and reviewed by UK Courts. Upon its shifting principles in judgment, the law undergoes drastic changes year after year.
British human rights organisations are currently criticising Theresa May, the Home Secretary, for asserting that Britain should do away with the ECHR as it hampers the government’s endeavours at extremist extradition, whilst UK Prime Minister David Cameron intends on lobbying the British Bill of Rights to curb the influence of European courts in favour of extradition. His concerns are rooted in how foreign criminals, terrorists most especially, are empowered by the ECHR’s laws.
Significance through the Years
- Inhuman and Degrading Treatment – During the 1970s, the British army tortured IRA members in the guise of military practice techniques.
- Gender Discrimination – In 1981, the ECHR decriminalised male homosexuality in Northern Ireland. This paved the way for more pro-LGBT laws.
- Child Protection – Child abuse via physical beating (with the use of a weapon) as ‘reasonable chastisement’ in a UK court falls under the ECHR as ‘inhuman or degrading treatment’.
- Freedom of Speech – In 1979, the Sunday Times had published the thalidomide scandal, going against an injunction order from the national courts. The ECHR overruled the court’s decision and declared freedom of the press and the nation’s interest.
The Human Rights Act 1998, implemented in October 2000, has helped inculcate the Convention into British laws. Since then, legal provision made in respect of any individual has to comply with the rights declared in the Convention.