Mind the Human Rights Gap: between the UN, the EU and the UK

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assemby in 1948 and contains 30 Articles.

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) or Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. It entered into force in 1953. All Council of Europe member states are party to the Convention and new members are expected to ratify the convention at the earliest opportunity.

It comprises 18 Articles and 13 Convention protocols.

There are two articles that are significant for victims:

  • Article 6 provides a detailed right to a fair trial, including the right to a public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within reasonable time, the presumption of innocence, and other minimum rights for those charged with a criminal offence
  • Article 13 provides for the right for an effective remedy before national authorities for violations of rights under the Convention.

Wikipedia writes: a fair and just trial might be impeded by:

  • Corruption or incompetence (judicial or otherwise)
  • Contempt of court (typically by the media or jurors)
  • Witness intimidation
  • A lack of legal counsel, or inequality of arms
  • Undue delay in procedure
  • Non-disclosure of evidence, through malice or through abuse of State Secrets Privilege (in the USA) or Public Interest Immunity (in the UK).

In the UK, the Public Interest Immunity is generally granted through Royal Charters. The Human Rights Act 1998 is virtually a copy of the European version, with the following notable exemptions:

  • Article 1 – binds the signatory parties to secure the rights under the other Articles of the Convention “within their jurisdiction“.
  • Article 13 – provides for the right for an effective remedy before national authorities for violations of rights under the Convention.

Furthermore, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union lists all of the economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the civil and political rights of the citizens and residents of the European Union. Chapter 6 on Justice contains Article 47 that combines the right to an effective remedy with the right to a fair trial.

Comments are welcome, especially on our latest online petition that addresses the lack of human rights in the UK!

And you may want to look at how we are exploring European territory with five key cases.


About Sabine Kurjo McNeill

I'm a mathematician and system analyst formerly at CERN in Geneva and became an event organiser, software designer, independent web publisher and online promoter of Open Justice. My most significant scientific contribution is www.smartknowledge.space
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4 Responses to Mind the Human Rights Gap: between the UN, the EU and the UK

  1. From WWII veteran and ‘victim veteran’ Norman Scarth:

    The European Convention on Human Rights PURPORTED to follow the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, but the ‘small print’ added made it very different.

    Because Britain was the main European victor in World War II, British lawyers under Sir David Maxwell-Fyffe QC (later Lord Chancellor Kilmuir) were given the job of drafting the Convention. They made certain it would protect British judges!

    The ECtHR own ’40 Year Survey’ (1955-1995) gives brief details of ALL cases during that period. It shows that apart from an odd Court Martial, not one single case complaining of a British judge has ever GOT to the Court – much less been decided upon. All such cases have been blocked by the lawyers who act as guard dogs on the gates! I doubt there will have been any change since 1995.

    The lawyers who run that outfit are as hostile to the Litigant in Person as those at home. They begrudge me my own success there (Scarth v UK, 33745/96) & are determined I will never win again. During my recent attempts to have declared unlawful the incarceration of sane people in so-called ‘Mental Hospitals’, I have suffered violations of Article 6 exactly as in my earlier case. Not only that that, but the British Government has blatantly violated the very promise they gave to the ECtHT that such things could never happen again.

    My new case to the ECtHR was absolutely cast iron but they have contemptuously & arrogantly thrown it out. As ever, they refuse to give any reasons. Far from following the UNUDHR, the ‘small print’ of the European Convention makes it more like Orwell’s ‘1984’.

    Norman Scarth.

  2. Stanley Embling says:

    I’ve sent the following questions to the EU, supposed to give me an answer in 3 days now two weeks have past from initial questions which are in my opinion of vital importance to our cause..Stanley Embling

    Dear Europe Direct,….I’m somewhat confused, therefore;.. I would like to know how the whole of this charter on human rights fundamental freedoms can be used to defend a citizens rights if Article 53 makes it clear that a member states constitution is supreme, even if a member state government is abusing citizens Human Rights?… Therefore I would like to know if this being international law, does Article 53 have precedence over national law which a constitution is??
    —– Original Message —–
    From: Europe Direct
    To: stanley.embling@ntlworld.com
    Sent: Monday, October 25, 2010 2:55 PM
    Subject: [Case_ID: 0321671 / 4179467]

    Dear Mr. Embling,
    We acknowledge receipt of your message, but on the basis of the details given in your e-mail, we have not been able to determine exactly what kind of details related to the Article 53 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights you are looking for. May we kindly ask you to contact us again with more precise information and further explanation about the situation, so that we can attend to your enquiry as quickly as possible?
    With kind regards,
    EUROPE DIRECT Contact Centre
    http://europa.eu – your shortcut to the EU!
    Please note: We will try to ensure that you receive the information requested, or to direct you to an appropriate source. However, we are unable to comment on specific issues pertaining to EU policy, and information provided by EUROPE DIRECT may not be considered as legally binding.

    Date: Tuesday, 19/10/2010 19:18:10
    From: “Stanley Embling”
    Subject: [Case_ID: 321671 / 4179467]

    Could you explain to me in writing the details of Article 53 of European Charter of Fundamental Rights please??

  3. Stanley Embling says:

    Just to inform readers that I’ve had No further reply back from the EUROPE Direct, and today is Monday 8th November 2010..It certainly puzzles me why such delays from the EU to questions that should be readily available at their fingertips and answered within 3days??

  4. Pingback: Exchange with EU Commission for Justice – so far, not supportive of UK Victims « Victims Unite!

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