Civil rights campaigners condemned Home Secretary John Reid on Sunday after he claimed that current human rights laws are no longer acceptable and must be “modernised.”
At a summit in Venice of interior and home affairs ministers from the six largest EU countries, Mr Reid urged ministers across Europe to begin a major rethink of how human rights legislation works in practice. In a controversial speech, Mr Reid said that politicians who followed existing case law “to the letter” were failing to do everything they could to guard against terror attacks.
Human rights legislation has caused problems for new Labour, including the defeat in the House of Lords of emergency laws passed in 2001 to detain terror suspects indefinitely without charge or trial. Enforcing its replacement system – known as “control orders” – has also been fraught with difficulties because of human rights legislation. The government is also unable to deport foreign suspects because the European Convention on Human Rights prevents people being sent back to countries where they may face torture or ill-treatment.
Human rights group Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said that it is clear to all observers that Mr Reid is no friend of the post-war human rights framework. “He would like to rip it all up and start again, casting aside an international framework that was agreed by democrats all over the world in the wake of the Holocaust and the Blitz,” Ms Chakrabarti said. “In particular, he would like to lock people up for long periods without due process and deport foreign nationals to places of torture.”
Morning Star, 14 May 2007