Theresa May to curb deportation ‘human rights’
Home Secretary Theresa May has warned judges that their powers to block the deportation of foreign criminals on human rights grounds must be curbed.
Mrs May said she would be seeking the backing of parliament for new guidelines for the courts spelling out how they should apply the European Convention on Human Rights in such cases.
In particular, she said she would be making clear that the right to a family life, enshrined in Article 8 of the convention – used by some foreign criminals to appeal against removal from the country – was not absolute.
She complained that the judges were not taking account of the wider public interest in the way the convention enabled them to.
And she warned that if they ignored the will of parliament, she would bring in new legislation to ensure that it was enforced.
“This is not an absolute right. So in the interests of the economy or of controlling migration or of public order – those sort of issues – the state has a right to qualify this right to a family life,” she said yesterday.
“What I am going to do is actually set out the rules that say this is what parliament, this is what the public believe is how you balance the public interest against the individual’s interest.
“We are going to ask parliament to vote on this to say very clearly what constitutes the right to a family life.
“I would expect that judges will look at what parliament will say and that they will take into account what parliament has said. If they don’t then we will have to look at other measures and that could include primary legislation.”
Mrs May also confirmed that the government would be bringing in a new “financial independence” rule imposing minimum income requirements for people seeking to bring foreign spouses or children into the country.
In addition, she said that from next year migrants seeking to settle in the UK will have to pass a “Britishness” test.
Mrs May said that the Home Office was also looking at contingency arrangements in case the eurozone crisis triggered a flood of immigrants into Britain.
Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said Article 8 had always been qualified, allowing governments considerable latitude over immigration control and economic well-being.
“The Home Secretary is far better reviewing immigration rules than bashing the Human Rights Act or the judiciary,” she said.
“But given the toxic nature of immigration politics in a recession, it becomes especially important to distinguish – in both rules and rhetoric – between abuse and criminality and anything that splits up genuine innocent families of British nationals.”
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Mrs May’s announcement on Article 8 would do nothing to address the failings in the UK Border Agency, which meant fewer foreign criminals were being deported.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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