Human rights

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No doubt many will agree with Allan Massie (Perspective 20 May) that the Human Rights Act should be left undisturbed, but just as many are likely to take the opposite view.

Of necessity the European Convention is couched in broad terms, giving wide scope for interpretation in the courts.

Some decisions, for instance regarding “family life”, have been criticised for stretching the meaning of the legislation to an unreasonable extent and defying common sense.

Some would say that human rights have replaced patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Another objection has been that the European Court has over-ruled the policies of democratically elected governments which are far from oppressive. Presumably it is such matters that the proposed changes will address.

What I wonder is if this great legalistic machine can achieve much more than being an irritant to the “good” governments.

Would the sort of state which is likely to contravene the convention in a serious way be deterred by mere legal decisions?

S Beck

Craigleith Drive

Edinburgh

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