We have had 2 examples of courts, one in the UK (The Supreme Court) and one from Europe (The European Court of Human Rights) , who have allegedly ‘pushed’ the UK around and made ‘us’ do things that ‘we’ don’t want to do. The first was given convicted and serving prisoners the right to vote and the second was demanding that all those on the sex offenders register, which has been portrayed in some of the media as the ‘paedophile regsiter’, be allowed to appeal against their inclusion on it.
There are a couple of obvious things here.
First and foremost, the European Court of Human Rights stands up for human rights, very much as a last resort for the indivdual. It has been established since 1959, 14 years after the end of the Second World War, and hopefully the last world war. It is nothing at all to do with the European Court of Justice, the highest court of the European Union and therefore nothing to do with ‘Europe’ as has been suggested by some of the media and some of the politicians who are naturally Euro sceptic. If we decide to defy the rulings, and on the issue of giving prisoners voting rights I have to say I disagree with the ruling, but that is not the point. The point is, that this court has made a decision and we may be bound to follow it. Surely, rather than simply defy this rule/law, we should do what everyone who follows the law does, namely appeal? Just to defy the ruling, smacks of selective law breaking. A democracy surely needs to work within the law to change it?
Secondly, let’s not confuse the rights of individuals to appeal against legal rulings, least of all from courts based in our own land. Thus if a sex offender (an not just a paedophile) is put on a register, for life, without the right to appeal, it does rather seem somewhat unfair. But so much is in the reporting. We have seen howls of derision from the ‘anti European’ brigade that our rights are being infringed upon, specifically the rights of Parliament to create laws. There have also been many claims from many parties (not political) who have said that sex offenders should not be allowed to come off the register and ‘who are a court to tell us otherwise’, this court often being quoted as European! Why are these people given rights anyway? All the Supreme Court have said is that these offenders have the right to appeal. That is all. The right to appeal. Take a look at how Sky News report the whole episode. Note the narrative, starting off the feature with a victim. Eventually the report gets around to the actual issue, but the contextual framing is at best disingenuous and at worst completely irrelevant.
I didn’t bother seeing what the the likes of the Daily Mail, The Sun, The Star and The Daily Express had to say about this. I think I could guess. Sticking to the issue and the facts seems difficult to some of these publication. Indeed, it is always about emphasis and spin. Just have a look at what The Daily Mail online said about the issue on the 17th of February.
It takes all sorts to make a world, and ultimately people write and should have the right to say what they feel, provided it is within the law. Indeed long may we have a Media that if all of their views are put on the scales at once, in a sort of coalition, we would probably see an overall balanced and thus neutral approach. There may well be a lesson in there somewhere.