A Tory MP has been criticised for “legal illiteracy” and for not understanding "what it means to live in a liberal democracy" after using the Charlie Hedbo terrorist attack to promote his party’s election pledge to abolish the Human Rights Act.
Writing on his website, David Davies MP argued that “under current laws, including the Human Rights Act, anyone can come to the UK and make a claim for asylum.”
The MP for Monmouth in South Wales said: “The tragic terrorist attacks in Paris should be a wake up call.
“We should state that anyone suspected of links with any militant Islamist organisations should be prevented from entry under any circumstance into Britain.”
Once helped arrest Taliban member in London-told to let him go. scrap HumanRightsAct & stop these ppl coming http://t.co/ai6rcG9H9R— David Davies MP (@davidtcdavies) January 8, 2015
Human Rights lawyer Adam Wagner posted a scathing rebuttal on the UK Human Rights Blog, commenting the Tory MP “does not understand the law.”
Wagner wrote: “He is wrong to say that: 'Under current laws, including the Human Rights Act, anyone can come to the UK and make a claim for asylum'.
“The right to claim asylum is not contained in the Human Rights Act. It is in the 1951 Refugee Convention.”
He also tweeted the Conservative MP, asking him to remove his post.
.@davidtcdavies You have misunderstood and misrepresented the Human Rights Act. Asylum laws are entirely separate, under Refugee Convention.— Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) January 8, 2015
.@davidtcdavies I really think you should remove the post. You are an MP & shouldn't be promoting repeal of an act you don't understand— Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) January 8, 2015
Dr Mark Elliot, Reader in Public Law at the University of Cambridge, blasted the MP’s willingness to exploit the tragedy to advocate restricting the rights of citizens.
In a post on Public Law for Everyone, he also criticised Davies’ “astonishing – but unfortunately commonplace – level of legal illiteracy.”
Dr Elliot wrote: “To the extent that the Paris shootings are relevant at all to the debate about human-rights law in the UK, their significance is not that they demonstrate that public security and human rights are incompatible.
“To the contrary, they stand as a stark reminder that liberal values are worth standing up for. The Charlie Hebdo journalists championed one of those values — freedom of expression — in particular, and that value is enshrined in our own Human Rights Act.”
"To suggest that the shocking events that took place in Paris this week establish a need to repeal that legislation discloses not only legal illiteracy but a fundamental failure to appreciate what it means to live in a liberal democracy."
There'll be plenty of this sort of uninformed criticism of the HRA before May, but this really is scraping the barrel http://t.co/q4C4lY6Vwb— Mark Elliott (@DrMarkElliott) January 8, 2015
Davies has also come under fire for the anecdote he used to make his case, in which he says that while serving as a Special Constable he was told to release an asylum-seek who claimed to be a member of the Taliban.
Respondents were quick to point out that being a member an extremist group may be considered valid grounds to seek asylum, while others cast doubts over the veracity of the story. But the MP stood firm over his stance.
@cjr1968 i didnt make the arrest partner did, i came over. Point is that he was Taliban fighter claiming asylum. how many others here?— David Davies MP (@davidtcdavies) January 8, 2015
Users on Twitter, including a host of lawyers and politicians, replied to Davies' post in their droves, accusing him of shamefully exploiting the attack in order to further his agenda.
Of course, events like those in Paris bring out the loons. Cue comments such as those from David Davies MP: https://t.co/H0fDfTPpLE— Niall Scott (@NiallScott) January 8, 2015
Because, @davidtcdavies, scrapping the Sea Fisheries Act 1968 would have exactly the same effect, given it too is irrelevant.— David Whitley (@mrdavidwhitley) January 8, 2015
some helpful history @davidtcdavies: 1789 French Déclaration: Art.11 La libre communication des pensées = ECHR Art.10 freedom of expression— Katie Boyle (@KatieAnneBoyle) January 8, 2015
@davidtcdavies Ugh. You are a great example of why I can't vote Conservative. Using a tragedy to promote your racist agenda. So gross.— Amy Thibodeau (@amythibodeau) January 8, 2015