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Tearing up human rights law won’t protect us from terrorism

Prime minister Theresa May has announced her resolve to tear up human rights law if it prevents her, and her government, from tackling extremism and countering terrorism.

This rhetoric is hardly new. It echoes Tony Blair’s post 9/11 claim that “the rules of the game are changing”. It’s also a continuation of May’s approach as home secretary. Over her term in that role, she systematically sought to dismantle legal barriers to desired government action. Indeed, it chimes well with longstanding concerns on the part of many Conservatives that human rights law is nothing more than an obstacle to security. Continue reading Tearing up human rights law won’t protect us from terrorism

I have a column in today’s The Independent on Jeremy Corbyn’s remarks on the importance of addressing the causes of terrorism and the potential for foreign affairs policies to impact on terrorism at home. The full column is available for free here, and here is a taster

In most other policy fields, we expect government to act on the basis of evidence; to survey the research, to consider it in context, to forecast the possible outcomes, to make the best laws and policies they can on the basis of this, to evaluate those laws and policies after some time, and to change them if they are not working. In the field of counterterrorism, however, this is perceived as weakness rather than prudence. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The JCHR Enquiry on Derogation from the ECHR: My Written Evidence

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has now published all of the written evidence it received about the proposed derogations by the UK from the ECHR in situations of conflict abroad. My submission is available here, and the executive summary is as follows: Continue reading The JCHR Enquiry on Derogation from the ECHR: My Written Evidence

Politicians left with nowhere to hide on abortion

I have an opinion editorial in yesterday’s online edition of the Irish Times on the next steps following the Citizens Assembly recommendations on abortion law reform in ireland. The full piece is available here, and here is a taste of its main argument:

It has already been reported that some politicians consider the committee’s purpose to be to water down the assembly’s proposals. This is a curious way, indeed, to think about the role of a committee established to consider the views of an assembly the Oireachtas itself established, and it is hard to see it as anything other than contemptuous of the process and the assembly members.

So what is the committee for?

Of course, it is not slavishly bound by the recommendations of the assembly, but surely its purpose is to take the broad recommendations and consider how they might be given practical effect.

The assembly clearly called for the State to fundamentally rethink its legal approach to abortion. Surely, the role of the committee, rather than frustrate that demand, is to inform the Oireachtas of the options for doing so.

Otherwise, one might reasonably ask whether the Citizens Assembly was simply a stalling tactic all along.