Activists decry British plan to suspend key human rights convention

VOA reports: Rights activists and lawyers are up in arms over Britain’s plan to suspend an international human rights convention during times of war, a step the government said would protect British troops from “spurious” legal claims of torture and murder against them.

The move by British Prime Minister Theresa May followed years of mounting anger in the Conservative Party and the country’s tabloid press over thousands of cases filed against soldiers who served in Iraq. The British government has spent about $135 million since 2004 defending the cases, many of which were launched under the European Convention on Human Rights, and the government has paid out $24 million in the settlement of 326 cases without admitting liability.

Britain’s tabloid press has railed against what they see as meddling, unelected European judges, arguing they are wrecking British law.

Under the plan, Britain would temporarily suspend parts of the Human Rights Convention before planned military actions. The suspensions would mainly focus on Article 2, which imposes upon the 47 signatory states the duty to refrain from unlawful deprivation of life, to investigate suspicious deaths and to prevent avoidable deaths.

Established in 1953 and effective across Europe, the convention grew out of a continent-wide determination never to see again the appalling rights violations of the Second World War and was inspired partly by Britain’s wartime leader, Winston Churchill. It was drafted in large part by the British Conservative politician and Nuremberg trials prosecutor David Maxwell Fyfe. [Continue reading…]

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