PACE President, Anne Brasseur at the end of her visit to the United Kingdom highlighted the important role that the United Kingdom has always played as a champion of human rights, a model of democracy and generous international donor. “We need more of the United Kingdom in Europe, during these challenging times, not less,” Ms Brasseur said.
“The debate on the role of the European Court of Human Rights in the United Kingdom has become emotional and political, but what we need today is a calm and rational reflection on the matter. The United Kingdom leaders need to clearly explain to the public what are the problematic issues, including the complicated inter-linkage with the devolved structures and what is at stake for the people in the United Kingdom and in Europe if the European Convention on Human Rights system is undermined,” Ms Brasseur said.
“I am not so much worried about the consequences of a possible repeal of the Human Rights Act for individuals in the United Kingdom, as I am about the effects it can produce on the human rights situation in other countries, where the governments are not as human-rights-committed as the United Kingdom is, and where citizens rely on the Court as the supreme guardian of European standards and values. Taking into account the rise of populism preaching dictatorship of the majority in many European countries, these concerns become all the more substantial. They should be taken into account and duly voiced in the public debate on the Bill of Rights, where media have an important and responsible role to play.
All member states of the Council of Europe share the collective responsibility of safeguarding the ECHR system. This applies all the more to the countries with an excellent human rights record, as is the United Kingdom.
During my visit I found out that in the United Kingdom, the Council of Europe has many active and prominent advocates across the political spectrum, and I think that if we talk to each other constructively and responsibly, we will be able to resolve the problematic issues that remain on the agenda,” Ms Brasseur concluded.
During her visit Ms Brasseur met with the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Minister of State for Europe, the Minister for Human Rights, the Chair of the Select Committees on Foreign Affairs, Justice and International Development.