Picture of British soldiers walking in a line in Afghanistan
  British troops in Iraq. A series of court cases have focused on military actions there and in Afghanistan. Photo credit: David Cheskin/PA

Plan for UK military to opt out of European convention on human rights

4 October, 2016

“Controversial plans for the military to opt out from the European convention on human rights (ECHR) during future conflicts will be introduced by ministers, to see off what the prime minister described as an “industry of vexatious claims” against soldiers.

The long-mooted idea will be announced on Tuesday at the Conservative party conference by Theresa May and the defence secretary, Michael Fallon, although it was immediately criticised by human rights groups who said it was based on a false narrative of spurious lawsuits.”

This announcement of a systematic partial and temporary withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights is a terrible message to all concerned: foreigners don’t deserve our human rights standards. Apart from being mostly ineffective at preventing lawsuits and from appearing to encourage human rights abuse by the military, it also invites similar behaviour by enemies of British troops, thus endangering UK’s soldiers, allies and the civilians working for them, and destroying the trust needed for efficient warfare.

In the bigger picture, this long-held populist grudge of a part of the British political establishment against “foreign judges” and the ECHR (initially voiced by Tony Blair in 2002 when he threatened to withdraw the UK from the ECHR if the number of asylum claims did not come down, and quickly repressed by then Lord Chancellor Derry Irvine who told Blair and the home secretary, David Blunkett: “I don’t know why you guys don’t just adopt the Zimbabwean constitution and have done with it”) sends out the message that “we” are the only ones deserving of human rights: it is direct encouragement to racial discrimination, xenophobia and violence against migrants.

To read the full article in The Guardian, please click here.

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