U.K. Justice Secretary Dominic Raab on Sunday said an upcoming overhaul of the U.K.’s Human Rights Act would include a “mechanism” to “correct” rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.
“We want the Supreme Court to have a last word on interpreting the laws of the land, not the Strasbourg court,” Raab told The Telegraph, adding that he would work to “protect and preserve the prerogatives of [the British] parliament from being whittled away by judicial legislation, abroad or indeed at home.”
Arguing that public services, such as the National Health Service, should be governed by “elected lawmakers” rather than “judicial legislation,” the minister questioned the legitimacy of the European court to issue judgements on domestic affairs in the U.K.
“I don’t think it’s the job of the European Court in Strasbourg to be dictating things … whether it’s the NHS, whether it’s our welfare provision, or whether it’s our police forces,” he said.
The minister also claimed that British troops serving overseas were being put “in harm’s way” out of fear of legal action under the European Convention on Human Rights.
“We’re identifying the problems and we’re making sure we fix them,” Raab said. “Where there have been judgments that, albeit properly and duly delivered by the courts, we think are wrong, the right thing is for Parliament to legislate to correct them.”
The interview drew criticism from several legal experts.
“Another Sunday, another Sunday Telegraph story demonstrating the fragile state of respect for the rule of law on the part of the UK Government,” Mark Elliott, Chair of the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge wrote on Twitter. “The Justice Secretary proposes to enable ministers to ‘correct’ court judgments that they consider ‘incorrect’. This raises profound constitutional concerns.”
The U.K. was among the first countries to ratify the European Convention of Human Rights in 1949 and has accepted the jurisdiction of the Stasbourg court since 1966.