Once again, the Conservatives are threatening to leave the European Convention on Human Rights. But they’ve been threatening that for many years – and never for good reasons, only spurious ones. Always.
Today, the Tories seem ready to jettison our 70-year alignment with the European Convention if that gets in the way of their despicable plans to automatically refuse asylum to people FOR LIFE, simply if they arrive in the UK by certain modes of transport.
But it was the same ten years ago, when the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, promised that the Tories would “scrap the Human Rights Act” and, if necessary, leave the European Convention on Human Rights if their court prevented the government from deporting “dangerous foreign criminals.”
At the September 2013 Tory AGM, Ms May cited the case of the radical Islamic cleric, Abu Qatada, as the number one reason to do so.
I should say at the outset that I am no fan of Qatada, who spread hate with his preaching. However, what happened in his case was not a reason to scrap or water down our human rights protections, let alone to leave the European Convention.
Qatada had been given asylum in the UK after being tortured in his native Jordan. Whilst in the UK, he was sentenced in Jordan to life in prison for alleged involvement in terrorist activities.
Theresa May tried to have him deported back to Jordan, but the European Court of Human Rights blocked this, because the evidence against Qatada had been obtained by torture, and there was also a serious risk of him being tortured himself if he returned.
Qatada kept appealing against deportation under the Human Rights Act, and he kept winning, costing the UK government almost £2 million in legal fees and huge frustration.
𝗨𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗛𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗥𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀 𝗔𝗰𝘁, 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝗼𝗻𝗲, 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻, 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗮 𝗳𝗮𝗶𝗿 𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗹, 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗿𝗶𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗼𝗯𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲.
Eventually, a treaty was signed between the UK and Jordan to guarantee that evidence obtained from torture would not be used against Qatada.
As soon as the treaty was agreed, Qatada volunteered to fly back to Jordan, without the need to deport him. And then, his subsequent trial was dismissed for lack of evidence.
But at the Tory Party annual conference of 2013 (see video), Mrs May cited the case of Abu Qatada as a prime reason to get rid of our Human Rights Act and to leave the European Convention on Human Rights.
𝗧𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘀. 𝗔𝗹𝘄𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝘀𝗽𝘂𝗿𝗶𝗼𝘂𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗰𝗿𝗮𝗽 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀. 𝗔𝗹𝘄𝗮𝘆𝘀.