UK Foreign Secretary Claims European Human Rights Laws Threaten Democracy

UK Foreign Secretary claims European human rights laws endanger democracy, as gov't faces legal challenges to Rwanda deportation scheme, sparking debate over national sovereignty and asylum seekers' rights.

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UK Foreign Secretary Claims European Human Rights Laws Threaten Democracy

UK Foreign Secretary Claims European Human Rights Laws Threaten Democracy

James Cleverly, the UK Foreign Secretary, has claimed that European human rights laws pose a "real moral hazard" and endanger democracy. In comments made on April 24, 2024, Cleverly stated that these laws undermine the integrity of the democratic process by preventing nations from managing their own borders and deciding who can live in their country.

Cleverly's criticism of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) comes as the UK government faces legal challenges to its controversial Rwanda deportation scheme. The Supreme Court had previously ruled that the scheme could lead to the refoulement of asylum seekers, which is prohibited by various international treaties. The ECHR has also ruled against the deportation plan.

The Foreign Secretary argued that it is "really important" for nations to be able to manage their own borders and make decisions about who lives in the country, calling this critical for the integrity of democracy. He suggested that legal bids to block immigration measures have been "perverse" and accused the government's Rwanda scheme of facing "judicial activism".

Why this matters: The UK government's stance on European human rights laws highlights ongoing tensions between national sovereignty and international legal obligations. The debate over the Rwanda deportation policy raises questions about the balance between border control and the rights of asylum seekers.

Cleverly's comments come amid divisions within the Conservative party over the UK's membership in the ECHR. While former Prime Minister David Cameron has said leaving the European Convention on Human Rights is not necessary to prevent small boat crossings, others, including former Prime Minister Liz Truss and former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, have called for the UK to withdraw from the convention.

The UK government has acknowledged that a returns agreement with France to break up people-smuggling gangs is "simply not possible" due to the current post-Brexit situation. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had previously hinted at the possibility of leaving the ECHR if it prevented the implementation of the Rwanda policy, but the government now faces legal challenges to the plan.

Meanwhile, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Michael O'Flaherty, warned against deporting migrants to Rwanda, saying it denies people the right to have their asylum claims examined and limits judges' powers. The UK government has defended the policy, stating that the legislation has been passed by Parliament and will soon receive Royal Assent.

Key Takeaways

  • UK Foreign Sec. claims EU human rights laws endanger democracy
  • UK faces legal challenges to controversial Rwanda deportation scheme
  • Debate over balance between border control and asylum seeker rights
  • Divisions within UK Conservatives over ECHR membership
  • UK faces legal obstacles to deporting migrants to Rwanda