Thursday, 7 August 2008

Those loony European judges.

The Sun is typically outraged that European judges are once again daring to interfere with our judicial system, this time over their decision to defer Abu Hamza's extradition until they have considered his appeal.

The paper though does its best to make this as clear as mud, only making clear that this is temporary until five paragraphs into its article, while describing the judges as "clowns" and as being unlikely to be a target in the "war on terror" due to their nationality. This is ignorant and misleading because while most are from European countries that have not been targeted by Islamic extremism, the judges are of just one section of the European Court of Human Rights, while the president of the court is French, a nation which has dealt with Islamic terrorism for decades, and one of the vice-presidents is a Brit. Additionally, Bosnia has definitely suffered from Islamic extremism, and Poland is also a potential target due to its involvement in the Iraq war.

It's the Sun's complete lack of context though which most rankles and misleads its readers:

"This is just the latest example of how Europe rides roughshod over the UK. It’s time we stood up and said enough and no more."

If this is meant to give the impression that this decision is something to do with the European Union, then it works judging by the response of commentators. In fact, the European Court of Human Rights has got nothing to do with the EU or its forebear, the European Economic Community. Rather, the ECHR and its base, the European Convention on Human Rights are connected with the set-up of the Council of Europe, one of the main suggestions of a certain Winston Churchill. The drafting of the Convention was done under the supervision of Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, with it being ratified by the Council in 1953, with the Court itself set-up in 1959. The ECHR serves as the last potential point of appeal for someone who has exhausted all the other options in Britain, and has done since that date. This is neither new nor Europe riding roughshod over the UK: if anything, it's our creation riding over our other own creations.

The reality is that Hamza's appeal is hardly likely to succeed, but the Sun cannot possibly miss an opportunity to attack both Europe and the human rights brigade, all while not informing its readers of even the slightest of contexts.

A longer version of this post is available on my own blog.

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