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European Convention Of Human Rights: Cameron Under Pressure To Withdraw Britain From Treaty

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David Cameron has come under increasing pressure from senior Tories
David Cameron has come under increasing pressure from senior Tories

David Cameron is under increasing pressure to withdraw Britain from the European Convention of Human Rights.

Senior Tories are demanding the UK's withdrawal unless the prime minister can secure fundamental reform of the system.

Last week the court ruled that radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada could not be deported to stand trial in Jordan, where he faces charges of terrorism because it would be a "flagrant denial of justice".

The firebrand preacher, described as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe", won his appeal despite assurances that he would not be tortured.

"In the absence of any assurance by Jordan that the torture evidence would not be used against Mr Othman, the court therefore concluded that his deportation to Jordan to be retried would give rise to a flagrant denial of justice," a court spokesman said.

Home Secretary Theresa May said she was "disappointed" but it was "not the end of the road" and Qatada would remain in prison while "all the legal options" are considered.

However, the court's decision that has angered a number of senior Conservatives who are now calling for Britain's extrication from the convention.

Cameron is expected to press the case for reform when he visits the European Court of Human Rights, responsible for enforcing the convention, this week in Strasbourg.


Headquarters of the Council of Europe, which houses the European Court of Human Rights

Martin Callanan, the leader of the Conservative MEPs in the European Parliament, said that if Mr Cameron was unable to secure changes in the Council of Europe, which oversees the court, Britain should withdraw.

"I hope that he will be able to get some reforms. The trouble is that a series of increasingly more ludicrous judgments by the Court of Human Rights is bringing the whole concept of human rights into disrepute. It is becoming ridiculous," he told BBC1's Sunday Politics programme.

"The court has found against the UK something like 300 times over the last few years. These are decisions that often fly in the face of common sense. Nobody has any faith in it.

"The European Court of Human Rights is substituting its judgment for the will of our elected representatives."

Last week, Cameron's official spokesman told reporters: "We have been talking for some time about reform for the European Court of Human Rights and we are using our presidency of the Council to try to make some progress on that issue.

"In particular, there is a massive backlog of cases which we want to address - something like 150,000 cases, which suggests that something isn't working quite as it should be.

"One of the most important issues is to make sure that the court focuses on the cases it should, instead of being a court of appeal for national judgments. I think the PM will say more about that agenda next week."

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human right organisation Liberty said: "Human rights rows provide a convenient distraction from the economy but the public may be smarter than politicians think.

"One minute our representatives bend over backwards to condemn extraordinary rendition; the next, they burst blood vessels because they can't deport people to places of torture.

"In the Spring they support human rights in the Arab World - by the Winter, they want to bulldoze the Court of Human Rights in Europe.

"This blatant inconsistency about our precious rights and freedoms makes independent judges and the Rule of Law all the more important."

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