IN THE SPOTLIGHT
EaP CSF Addressed Open Letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron
2 December 2015
Participants of the 7th Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) in Kyiv addressed an open letter to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron and the Secretary of State for Justice of the United Kingdom Michael Gove expressing their deep concern about the current debate within the ruling Conservative Party in the United Kingdom which appears to be moving to change the country’s relationship with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and to replace the existing British Human Rights Act that incorporates the European Convention with a new Bill of Rights that could curtail previously granted rights.
Reiterating the EaP CSF support for the European Convention on Human Rights as an indispensable instrument for promoting respect for human rights in the member countries of the Council of Europe (CoE) and noting that the ECHR and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg have been effective in defending human rights, the EaP CSF appeals to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Justice of the UK to maintain the arrangements which hitherto have served well the cause of human rights.
Were the United Kingdom to break this arrangement by enacting a Bill of Rights allowing Britain’s authorities to deviate from universally accepted standards and to treat the judgements of the ECHR as merely advisory, then this would set a dangerous precedent for rulers of other member countries of the CoE, who could be tempted to pass their own Bills of Rights limiting the rights of their citizens. Furthermore, such moves would not only undermine the respect for human rights in certain Eastern European countries but they would harm the United Kingdom’s reputation as a promotor of human rights globally.
The letter was signed by the Co-Chair of the EaP CSF Steering Committee Krzysztof Bobiński on behalf of more than 170 civil society organizations from the Eastern Partnership and EU countries which voted on 21 November 2015 at the 7th Annual Assembly in Kyiv.