By Paracelsus 1 Comments
No sooner has "hate preacher" Abu Qatada thankfully departed for trial in his native Jordan( after both the UK and his own country not only ratified a treaty banning torture but evidence obtained by torture being used against him), then the recent ruling by the ECHR (European Court Of Human Rights)) that several British prisoners serving life sentences for murder and other heinous crimes of violence were entitled to have their sentences reviewed after 25 years, than the "usual suspects" ( "rentaquote" Tory backbenchers/backwoodsmen and the "true blue" tabloids- Daily Mail, Express, Sun and Telegraph) had their usual fit of faux outrage, threatening to withdraw from not just the ECHR but the 1951 European Convention Of Human Rights per se_ never mind that British lawyers played a seminal role in its creation!
Let's get one thing straight: the ECHR did NOT say that these prisoners must be automatically freed after 25 years, it merely said that their incarceration must be reviewed after a quarter century behind bars- if only to prevent the hopelessness and propensity to violence( including suicide) that long term imprisonment often breeds on the part of lifers.
Now much of what I know the prisoners and the crimes they were sentenced for(pace Jeremy Bamber), I find repugnant( much as I do Abu Qatada's reported views on women, Jews. gays and non-Muslims), but as we saw during the NI "Troubles", we cannot make a hard and fast distinction between popular criminals and unpopular ones- if human rights are to mean anything, they must apply across the board to the demonized as well as the popular ones(soldiers like Para Lee Clegg and Scots Guardsmen Fisher and Wright, freed from life sentences for murdering civilians during the NI Troubles by a media campaign)..
Demands that the ECHR stop"interfering" in British matters strike me as absurd- as then US President Jimmy Carter observed in a memorable riposte to the late Leonid Brezhnev as far back as 1977- "human rights are ultimately EVERYBODY's business!"