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Assess the impact of the European Convention on Human Rights on UK law.

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Introduction

Assess the impact of the European Convention on Human Rights on UK law In democratic societies, it is usually felt that there are certain basic rights which should be available to everyone. These rights tend to vary in different legal systems but they generally include such freedoms as the right to say, think and believe what you like (freedom of expression, thought and conscience), and to form groups with others (freedom of assembly). Most democratic countries have a written Bill of Rights, which lays down the rights which, by law, can be enjoyed by citizens of that country. These rights have to be respected by the courts, parliament, the police and private citizens, unless the Bill of Rights allows otherwise. Such a Bill may form part of a written constitution or sit along side such a constitution: either way, it will usually have a status which is superior to that of ordinary law, in that it can only be changed by special procedure i.e. a referendum. Legislation, which is protected by special procedures, is said to be entrenched. Britain is unusual among democratic countries in having neither a Bill of Rights nor a written constitution. ...read more.

Middle

The main disadvantage of this idea of residual rights is that although the principle that a person is considered free to do anything not specifically prohibited by law which is fundamental to the idea of civil liberties, this principle also applies to the state, so that the government may violate individual freedom even though it is not formally empowered to do so, on the grounds that it is doing nothing which is prohibited. This was the main premise behind the case of Malone v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (1979). A significant change in the British position was made by the introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998 (discussed below). The Act will make the European Convention on Human Rights (also discussed below) part of the law of the UK. While the Convention is currently part of the international law that is recognised by the UK, it had never been integrated into our domestic law. The European Convention on Human Rights was drawn up by the Council of Europe, which was established after the Second World War when countries tried to unite to prevent such horrors ever happening again. Signed in Rome in 1950, the Convention was ratified by the UK in 1951 and became binding on the UK in 1953. ...read more.

Conclusion

As the Convention rights are very loosely drafted and through their interpretation the judges could easily dilute them and render them ineffective. In conclusion, the lack of a Bill of Rights, as discussed above, leaves British citizens in a very uncomfortable position. By incorporating the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law through the Human Rights Act and not entrenching the Convention with a proper Bill of Rights, has enabled the executive to maintain the concept of parliamentary sovereignty. By doing so the executive has provided itself with several 'get-out-clauses' so that citizens rights may not be properly protected as the executive can itself remove certain rights as it sees fit. A good example of this is the situation at present where the government wishes to remove suspected terrorists right not to be detained without a fair trial. By entrenching the Convention UK citizens would have their rights protected and only through special procedures could parliament change such rights. Until this happens I do not believe that there will be a satisfactory situation within the UK, with regard to civil liberties. This essay comprehensively covers the factual areas of the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights and also covers various opinions regarding the possible impact of the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights on UK law and UK citizens. ...read more.

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