Human rights law expert comments on the UK's European Convention on Human Rights future for BBC News
Professor Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou, Professor in Human Rights Law, featured on BBC News 24 – The Context with Christian Fraser, on 9 August, to discuss the UK’s European Convention on Human Rights future. The feature, which aired at 20:05, was viewed by 505,000 households.
Professor Dzehtsiarou provided insight on the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) in relation to the Rwanda policy, following legal challenges, and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which oversees the implementation of the Convention in the 46 Council of Europe member states, including the United Kingdom.
The Rwanda policy forms the UK Government’s plan to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda to process their claims. The Court of Appeal ruled the policy to be unlawful, with the ruling stating that the policy breaches Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and ill treatment. This decision is set to be challenged at the Supreme Court.
Kanstantsin explained, “The European Court of Human Rights has not yet blocked the policy, but it has issued interim measures which prevented the first flight to Rwanda. This does not mean that the European Court of Human Rights have deemed the policy to breach the European Convention on Human Rights. The interim measures just delay the flight until the European Court of Human Rights makes a final decision on the situation.
Similarly, this doesn’t mean that there is a complete ban on extradition or deportation coming from the ECtHR. It is the role of the UK Government to establish a clear system for dealing with immigration in that sense.”
Following the ongoing legal challenges associated with the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, the UK Government has announced a plan to campaign to leave the European Convention on Human Rights at the next general election, if their policy continues to face obstruction.
Kanstantsin stressed, “The consequences of leaving the European Convention on Human Rights would be quite dramatic: the extra level of protection is lifted. 6-months after the UK government submits the notification to leave the ECHR, no UK citizen will be able to apply to the ECtHR to complain that the UK Government violated human rights. This will have massive implications for individuals in the UK who want their rights protected.
The European Convention on Human Rights doesn’t just protect immigrants and vulnerable minorities, it protects all of us.”
“There are also different levels of complexity associated with leaving. For example, the ECHR is mentioned the Good Friday agreement, which determines the UK’s relationship with Northern Ireland.
The ECHR is also mentioned in the Brexit agreement, which will further complicate relations with the European Union. Following Brexit, the UK can no longer send asylum seekers back to the port of first entry, as we could under the European Union. These problems with immigration and ‘small boats’ link directly to Brexit.”
Leaving the European Convention on Human Rights would be a breach of the Good Friday Agreement and is likely to harm strategic relations with the US. Also, should the UK withdraw from the ECHR, the European Union would be entitled to terminate important provisions concerning international law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal justice matters under Article 692 of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
Find out more
- View Professor Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou's staff profile
- Visit the International Law and Human Rights Unit webpages
- Watch the full video via University of Liverpool Stream Services
Watch the interview