UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke lambasted by Council of Europe President

"I find it very alarming that a politician may be making statements that could have the effect of undermining the judicial independence of that Court, by stating in advance that an undesired judgment might have negative political consequences."

PACE President warns against undermining the judicial independence of the European Court of Human Rights

Strasbourg, 09.09.2005 - The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), René van der Linden, today expressed his concern at recent statements by the UK Home Secretary, Charles Clarke.

Mr Clarke, speaking of the possibility of the European Court of Human Rights finding UK anti-terrorism legislation to be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, had appeared to suggest that such a judgment could lead to a reconsideration of whether or not the UK should remain party to the Convention, since it would contradict the 'consensus' on how rights should be defended.

"The European Convention on Human Rights is the heart and foundation of the Council of Europe's human rights protection system," said Mr van der Linden. "Its effectiveness depends upon its Court, the first international judicial mechanism for human rights protection in the world and a crowning achievement of civilised values. I find it very alarming that a politician may be making statements that could have the effect of undermining the judicial independence of that Court, by stating in advance that an undesired judgment might have negative political consequences."

Mr van der Linden also replied to those who felt that the Convention was no longer relevant to the current circumstances of the fight against terrorism.

"The Convention was drafted in the immedate aftermath of the bloodiest, most destructive war the world has ever seen. It is not a luxury for times of peace, but a necessity to prevent tyranny and conflict."

Press Release
Parliamentary Assembly Communication Unit
Ref: 457a05
Tel: +33 3 88 41 31 93
Fax :+33 3 90 21 41 34
pace.com@coe.int
internet: www.coe.int/press



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