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Sajjad Karim MEP Headshot

Qatada Should Go but the Court has Its Uses

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Let me start by saying I found the European Court of Human Rights' decision on Abu Qatada baffling; I firmly believe a country's borders are the responsibility of that country and that country alone. However, David Cameron is right to demand reform and must reject knee-jerk calls to leave the European Convention on Human Rights.

The convention was founded following the atrocities suffered by millions during two world wars. Britain and Churchill were the driving forces behind the convention and it was drafted by British lawyers and based on British law. There is nothing controversial in the convention. The right to life, liberty, security, fair trial, privacy, expression, property and free elections are ones we all subscribe to.

We read about the court only when we feel the hand of judicial activism or controversial, baffling decisions; but the same can be said of our domestic courts. Yet we would not dream of abolishing them.

The convention is separate from and predates Britain's membership of the EU. I am convinced this issue is being blurred because many people wrongly think the court is part of the EU.

The convention is written to allow member governments plenty of scope for national interpretation; it is a loose framework, not a prescription. Such basic rights, upheld by the judiciary, are commonplace in most western democracies. They address a weakness of majoritarian government, whereby its executive can easily wear down civil liberties.

Yes there have been mistakes, yes the judges, may on occasion in the eyes of many, exceed their brief and this risks undermining the founding principles of the court. But the convention has done much that is good and has done much to safeguard our freedoms. Without it our freedoms would have been eroded long ago.