Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, commenting ahead of David Cameron’s speech at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg today, said:
“Reform of the European Court of Human Rights is important if it is to continue to be successful in promoting and protecting human rights across the 800 million people who are covered by the Convention.
“Labour has called for improvements in the quality of the Court’s judges, in tackling the backlog of cases and improving screening to sift out those cases irrelevant to the remit of the Court.
“It’s also crucial the Court does not lose sight of the concept of ‘margin of appreciation’ – critical to the working of the court as the application of its judgements are not simply blanket European-wide, but instead allow individual countries to take into account their own unique cultural, political and legal circumstances.
“But our concern is that David Cameron has resorted to a negative hectoring stance, sometimes peddling myths about the work of the Court. He has not made a positive case for our membership of the European Convention on Human Rights, nor the leading role the UK plays in proudly exporting our human rights across the continent and beyond.
“Instead, his comments have satisfied a section of his own backbenchers, whose real aim appears to be our total withdrawal from European human rights structures.
“David Cameron needs to be clear that he opposes the UK simply turning its back in this way, and that we will continue to play our leading role in the family of nations as a champion of human rights.
“He must also reaffirm his commitment to our domestic human rights legislation – any future Bill of Rights must go above and beyond our existing protection of human rights, and not water down Labour’s Human Rights Act.”