Writing in the Times today, Nick Fluck, President of the Law Society is joined by Sir Nicolas Bratza (former President of the ECtHR), calling on us to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights which will be tomorrow.
The letter as it appears in the Times on September 2, 2013 Monday is below:
Letters to the Editor
Celebrate human rights milestone
Sir, Tomorrow will see an important anniversary in our country’s proud tradition of respecting the rule of law and fundamental rights, one which will be marked by the Law Society and the British Institute of Human Rights. Yet this “other jubilee” is one too few know about.
The European Convention on Human Rights is turning 60. We believe that six decades of ensuring respect for fundamental freedoms for more than 800 million people across 47 countries is an occasion to celebrate.
Rather than generating rafts of litigation against the UK, the very few cases that have reached the European Court of Human Rights have led to important and lasting changes: curbing stop and search powers, promoting equal treatment of same sex couples, regulating state surveillance, upholding the global prohibition on torture, limiting indefinite retention of biometric data and ensuring safeguards to protect children and vulnerable adults.
Beyond our borders, the convention has meant decriminalisation of homosexual acts in Ireland, measures to prohibit discrimination against children born outside marriage in Belgium and recognising freedom of religion in Moldova.
All too often the loudest voices in our debates focus on decrying the convention and its court. There is little recognition of the many ways in which the convention has helped to build fairer and more cohesive countries across Europe, including the UK.
The UK’s leadership helped to set down legal protections of our fundamental human rights and freedoms; UK lawyers were at the forefront of drafting the law, and the UK was the first country to ratify the convention. Rather than squandering the legacy our post-war leaders worked so hard to build, now is the time to recognise and secure our human rights heritage. We must celebrate the convention, including its British roots, and ensure it continues to exist to safeguard our rights and the rule of law.
Nicholas Fluck President, the Law Society of England and Wales
Sir Nicolas Bratza President, the British Institute of Human Rights; former president, the European Court of Human Rights