UK Law Tour: Report #7 Human Rights law – Carl Gardner on the Abu Qatada judgment

“All human beings, whatever their cultural or historical background, suffer when they are intimidated, imprisoned or tortured . . . We must, therefore, insist on a global consensus, not only on the need to respect human rights worldwide, but also on the definition of these rights . . . for it is the inherent nature of all human beings to yearn for freedom, equality and dignity, and they have an equal right to achieve that.”
-The Dalai Lama

Human rights law is, arguably, one of the most important foundations upon which our modern society is built – a subject which arouses pride in some, yet irritation and anger in the minds of others when decisions of the courts do not fit with the political or national mood.

The BBC noted some time back: A common misconception is that the European Convention on Human Rights and its institutions have been thrust upon an unwilling UK as part of the wider European project. But the reality is that the UK (which passed the first ever legislation known as a Bill of Rights in 1689) was one of the architects of the human rights agenda that grew out of the devastation of Second World War.

The European Convention on Human Rights has its roots in the philosophical tradition of universal rights which stretches back to the Enlightenment of the 18th century and the French Revolution. But the actual catalyst for creating a model set of rights in the 20th century was the Allies’ determination to bring peace to Europe.”

On a day when Abu Qatada was released on bail following the judgment of SIAC yesterday – it is noteworthy that the Prime Minister commented in clear, negative, terms:

Mr Cameron told BBC News: “I am completely fed up with the fact this man is still at large in our country, he has no right to be there, we believe he’s a threat to our country…We have moved heaven and earth to try and comply with every single dot and comma of every single convention to get him out of this country.

…It’s extremely frustrating and I share the British people’s frustration at the situation we find ourselves in,”

Mr Cameron may well feel that his government has ‘moved heaven and earth’ – but the reality is that SIAC came to a view that the government had not made its case for lawful deportation and blame for that may well lie at the door of Theresa May, the home secretary.

Today, I talk with Carl Gardner, ex government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog about the SIAC Abu Qatada decision and the wider implications for our society if we do not continue to uphold the Rule of Law – no matter how inconvenient it may be for politicians.

Listen to the podcast

iTunes version

Useful resources

SIAC judgment: read judgment

Theresa May MP, home secretary: Theresa May’s statement on Abu Qatada winning appeal against deportation:

Carl Gardner: Abu Qatada: what happens next?