Saturday, February 5, 2011

Europe's judges have 'made UK a safe haven for terrorists'

European judges have turned Britain into a ‘safe haven’ for foreign terrorists, the independent reviewer of anti-terror laws warned yesterday.

Lord Carlile said rulings by the European Court of Human Rights had undermined efforts to deport dangerous individuals intent on causing mayhem.

The Liberal Democrat peer and QC attacked the court for refusing to allow the risk of harm to British citizens to be weighed in deportation hearings. Instead, only the human rights of the suspected terrorist can be taken into account. ‘The effect [of the court’s rulings] is to make the UK a safe haven for some individuals whose determination is to damage the UK and its citizens – hardly a satisfactory situation save for the purist,’ he said.

His comments will heap further pressure on ministers over relations with the Strasbourg court. Conservative MPs are already in open revolt over plans to give thousands of prisoners the right to vote following the court’s judgement that prisoners must have access to the ballot box.

Last night Dominic Raab, Tory MP for Esher and Walton, said European judges’ law making was ‘out of control’. He added: ‘It is not the job of an international court to re-write British laws on deportation, parental discipline or prisoner voting. It is high time we drew a line in the sand.’

Under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights individuals are protected against torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. The clause allows foreign terror suspects to fight deportation on the grounds that they would be tortured in their home countries if returned. A string of terrorists have taken advantage of the clause.

Britain has argued that the courts should be allowed to take into account the risks posed to its citizens. But the unelected judges ruled, in the 1996 Chahal judgment, that the only factor of importance was the protection of the human rights of terror suspects.

The European convention has been incorporated into British law in the Human Rights Act. British courts have to apply rulings of the European court.

Lord Carlile’s comments make clear how Britain’s efforts to deport foreign terror suspects have been hamstrung by the court.

In an attempt to deal with the issue, Labour made deals with countries with dubious human rights records in which they pledged not to torture anyone returned to them. These ‘deportation with assurances’ (DWA) agreements exist with Algeria, Libya, Jordan, the Lebanon and Ethiopia.

Home Secretary Theresa May has pledged to step up efforts to make more agreements and send more foreign terror suspects home. But Lord Carlile, in his sixth and final report as independent reviewer of terror legislation, wrote: ‘The negotiation of DWAs is a time-consuming process. ‘Even where successfully agreed, there is no guarantee the courts will accept them, given the relatively low threshold required for an individual to avoid deportation.

‘The Government sought by intervention in the European Court of Human Rights to argue that where a person seeks to resist removal on the grounds of risk of ill-treatment in their home country, this may be balanced against the threat they pose to national security if they remain. ‘And where the person poses a risk to national security, this has an impact on the standard to which he must establish a risk of ill-treatment. The court rejected both arguments. This leaves the UK reliant on DWAs.’

Lord Carlile’s comments angered human rights groups. Kate Allen, UK director at Amnesty International said: ‘The global ban on deporting people to countries where they’re at risk of torture exists for a very good reason – to protect us all from the threat of being tortured.’

The Tory manifesto included a pledge to abolish the Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights, but this was kicked into the long grass after discussions with the Lib Dems over forming the Coalition.


French plans to strip immigrants who threaten police of their citizenship rejected

Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans for one of the toughest immigration laws in Europe has been thrown out by lawmakers - with one likening it to the brutal regime of Nazi-occupied France.

The law to strip people or their French nationality if they had been citizens for less than ten years and threatened police was approved by French MPs in last year. The proposed rules would also have seen immigrants expelled if they were an ‘unreasonable’ strain on the welfare state or guilty of ‘aggressive begging’.

The law presented by then hardline immigration minister Eric Besson had the full backing of the French president, and heralded the controversial police raids on Roma gypsy camps across France. But members of France’s upper house of parliament the Senate rejected the law yesterday by an overwhelming 182 votes to 156.

Centrist Senator said during the debate: 'It was the Vichy regime of occupied France which invented denaturalisation.' She told how members of her own family was stripped of its nationality in 1941 before being sent to the death camps.

Socialist David Assouline added: 'The National Front party has made proposals for a similar law, which would create two categories of French citizens.'

And centre-left Senator Anne-Marie Escoffier said the law broke with all the traditions of equality enshrined in the French republic.

The rejection of the law was later hailed as a ‘victory over inhumainty’ by French immigrants’ rights groups.

President Sarkozy’s support for the law and crackdown on Roma gypsies was widely viewed as a bid to woo voters from the right amid poor ratings in the opinion polls. The controversial policy forced dozens of Roma gypsy families to be deported from their camps in France and fly back to Romania. Rights groups claimes the Roma were demonised under illegal policies and Romania warned France against 'xenophobic reactions'.

His popularity has been affected following the strikes and protests that crippled the country last year. Unions were joined by students and angry citizens to demonstarte against the government's controversial pension reform plans.

French residents have also complained about Sarzoky's glamorous lifestyle with former model Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

Sarkozy's ruling UMP party has now said a revised draft of the Immigration, Integration and Nationality Law would be written and presented to MPs later this year, before being presented to Senators for a second time.


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