Monday, February 07, 2005

More on UK detention

The Guardian reports that, following last years House Of Lords decision declaring that their detention without trial in Belmarsh prison contravened their human rights, some of the detainees are taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

They are arguing that (as Lord Hoffman thought) Britain does not face an emergency "threatening the life of the nation", that being the test set down in the ECHR (article 15). Britain is the only signatory country to have made such a derogation.

Should the UK lose in Strasbourg on this point, they will have few options. The planned "house arrest" scheme would almost certainly fall foul of the same provisions. Repudiation of the ECHR would leave Britain the only EU country to have done so (and in breach of an condition that has been applied to all aspirant EU members). Perhaps it won't be until car factories start closing down that Blair realises that the UK has international as well as moral obligations to respect human rights.

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