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    European Human Rights Act – Not Fit for Combat

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    A new report published by right leaning think tank Policy Exchange argues that the "judicalisation of war" has increased since the introduction of the Human Rights Act in 1998.

    The Human Rights Act was introduced by the Labour Party in 1998. Articles from the Act include: the right to life, freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, right to a family life, right to liberty, freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial.

    This means that British armed forces must operate on the battle field in accordance with the Human Rights Act and called "ludicrous" by co-author Tom Tugendhat:

    "It is ludicrous that European and British courts now expect our forces to operate in violent combat according to a system more suited to the regulation of police powers on a Saturday night in the West End of London."

    Future Conflicts

    Instead, the report calls for Britain to suspend the European Court of Human Rights during periods of future conflicts – and for the Geneva Conventions to be the standard that guides the UK military in combat situations.

    The paper says judges are threatening Britain's fighting capacity, mainly because enemy combatants have been granted the right to sue the Government for breaching their human rights.

    Tipping Point of Human Rights Laws

    One such case described in the report as 'the tipping point of human rights laws into the military space' involved claims by relatives of British soldiers killed in action in Iraq.

    In Smith v MoD (court case), the Supreme Court in London established that the soldiers injured in battle or the families of those killed in action may sue the government for negligence under tort law (defined as a civil wrong that can be redressed by awarding damages), and for breaching Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights: the right to life.

    According to co-author, Dr Jonathan Morgan:

    "Our armed forces should certainly not be above the law. That is why the Geneva Conventions should apply when they are on active operations. Human rights law simply has no place on the battlefield."

    By the end of March 2015, it's expected that 1,230 public law claims will be filed against Britain’s Ministry of Defense in relation to UK military action in Iraq.

    Election Battle

    The Conservative party have been campaigning for a decade to scrap the European Convention on Human Rights Act. In October 2014, Prime Minister David Cameron reiterated his parties intentions to reform Britain's human rights laws — if they win the 2015 general election.

    Justice Secretary Chris Grayling says a new British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities will reduce the power of the European Court of Human Rights.

    The proposal would mean that British courts would no longer have to take into account rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, allowing parliament to veto the court’s rulings.

    Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat Justice Minister, says the Coalition Agreement meant "all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, ensures that these rights continue to be enshrined in British law and protects and extends British liberties".

    Sadiq Khan, Labour's shadow justice secretary said the European Court of Human Rights needed reform but the Human Rights Act was, to all intent and purposes, a British Bill of Rights.

    Tags:
    military, human rights, war crimes, war, European Convention of Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, Europe, Britain, United Kingdom
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