Human rights are for people like us

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The European Convention of Human Rights is not part of the EU, but was drafted mainly by British lawyers so that after World War 2, (in which most of the major players were dictatorships), governments in Europe would no longer find it so easy to persecute minorities, practise or condone torture, imprison without trial, or convict or punish accused people secretly or automatically – and recent UK governments have shown a willingness to do most of these.

The court that upholds the ECHR never opposed whole-life tariffs: it raised a concern that the law did not make clear that there was some possibility of the tariff being reviewed.

But Arthur Hutchinson’s most recent appeal to them was rejected.

A British appeal court decided that the British Justice Secretary has the power to review in exceptional circumstances, but can choose not to.

The court that we set up to police the standards that we signed up to agrees that we are meeting them.

A villain is not automatically kept in prison for life, but stays there by the decision of a British court and a British minister, and as he is a vicious criminal who deserves to be where he is, that is a just process with the right outcome.

It is a pity that the likes of Hutchinson hit the headlines and set the debate, because human rights are mainly for people like us or those we know and love.

They serve us when UK authorities separate elderly couples, force domestic abuse survivors into homelessness, hold DNA and fingerprint identification of the innocent or subject citizens to mass electronic surveillance.

It is the standards that we set ourselves after the war against dictatorship that allow us to hold modern governments to account when they behave like dictators.

J Robin Hughes

Towngate Road, Worrall, Sheffield, S35