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Theresa May agrees to STAY in the human rights convention after Brexit


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Theresa May has agreed for the UK to remain in the European Convention on Human Rights after Brexit.

The move was revealed in the government's Brexit white paper, which pledged that the UK was "committed" to staying in the convention.

This was in response to EU warnings that withdrawing from the Convention would jeopardise future security arrangements.

Convention provisions are not part of EU law - drafted by the Council of Europe in 1950, in the wake of World War 2, the Convention binds all members of the Council, which includes non-EU countries like Russia and Turkey.

It is enforced by a specially constituted European Court of Human Rights, not the EU's European Court of Justice. 

However, all EU member states are bound by treaty to respect Convention rights; this means security cooperation with a country that is not a signatory to the Convention may result in EU member states being complicit in human rights violations.

The Convention has protected human rights in Britain since it entered into force in 1953.

However, it was only enshrined in British law in 1998, under the Blair government, when the Human Rights Act was passed.

While neither the Convention nor the Act can compel Parliament to repeal or amend any law, the Convention means British citizens whose rights are violated can bring cases in the European Court of Human Rights, regardless of what British law says.

However, if the UK leaves the Convention after Brexit then Britain is free to legislate away important rights like freedom of expression and the right to privacy.

This leaves the British people without an avenue for redress - even if this violates international law.

Individuals cannot bring cases to other international courts, and global institutions like the UN have a poor record of successfully stopping human rights violations, particularly those committed by wealthy and powerful states.

May had previously opposed the Convention as Home Secretary and in her successful bid to lead the Conservative Party in 2016, as she believed it made it harder to deport persons suspected of terror and criminal activities.

The Tories' 2017 election manifesto also pledged to stay in “for the duration of the next parliament”, until Brexit had been completed.

Featured image courtesy of Annika Haas and Chris Allen

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