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Protection of the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens from the State or Other Organizations

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    How effectively can the Judiciary protect individuals from erosions of civil liberties in the UK? One of the major functions of the judiciary in a modern, liberal democracy is to protect the rights and freedoms of the citizens against the state or other organisations. It is the aim of this essay to expose the effective points which include: The 2009 Foundation of the Supreme Court; Human Rights Act; and Judicial rule over the government. On the other side of why it is not effective I plan to counter my previous points as well exposing different examples and explain how Parliament is sovereign.

    My first point is on the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights), which is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. They help the judiciary decide and protect individuals from civil liberties erosions. For example recently there was a deadline for the government to comply with ECHR judgments on prisoner votes. There was a draft bill on the enfranchisement of prisoners. But instead of supporting a minimal change to the law, the government is hiding behind the parliament which is hostile to the idea of giving any additional prisoners the vote.

    The consequences of doing this extend far beyond Westminster. Prisoner enfranchisement can be made conditional on the nature or gravity of the offence, the ECHR has said; it is for the national authorities to decide. This is an attempt to protect individuals from civil liberties getting eroded. Another point to reinforce the effectiveness of the Judiciary is the fact that the Human rights act directly gives the judiciary power to protect individual rights .

    The judiciary can also declare an act of Parliament incompatible with European Convention and Parliament may amend legislation, this is exactly what happened 2004 with the overturning of the anti-terrorism act 2001 There are two examples to prove this point. My first is Abu Qatada, even though we disagree, he was protected by the Human Rights Act even though he is a terrorising murder. My second example is Belmarsh in 2004. When several prisoners were detained in Belmarsh prisoner on suspension of being terrorist, without being given a trial, it created uproar and was against the human rights act.

    A commission was made . The commission ruled on 30 July, 2002 that the anti-terror act unjustifiably discriminated against foreign nationals as British people could not be held in the same way. But that ruling was later overturned by the Court of Appeal who said there was a state of emergency threatening the life of the nation. My third example is how a Christian owner of a bed and breakfast has been ordered to pay damages after a court found her refusal to let a gay couple stay in one of her double room’s amounted to direct discrimination and a breach of equality law.

    This shows that the judiciary is effective due to its rulings and how it sticks dead on with the rule of law. My final point is the fact that the judiciary can rule the government because they are beyond power (Ultra Vires), which means that they can order reversal of action. For example there was the case of Michael Gove vs. Essex Country Council over slashing the budget by 10 million. Essex County Council claimed Mr Gove breached equality laws when he slashed part of its budget by ?10m in 2010 by hitting the county’s disabled children.

    The High Court ruled Mr Gove’s decision was unlawful and must be reviewed. Council leader Peter Martin said he hoped the ruling would help nursery provision in the county. But the Department for Education said parts of the judgement supported the government such as the dismissal of the challenge that the department should have consulted Essex County Council. This is an effective action. On the other hand of the government, there have been some instances where the judiciary have failed to protect individuals from erosions of civil liberties.

    My first point is the fact that our Parliament is sovereign. Parliamentary sovereignty is a principle of the UK constitution. It makes Parliament the supreme legal authority in the UK, which can create or end any law. Generally, the courts cannot overrule its legislation and no Parliament can pass laws that future Parliaments cannot change. Parliamentary sovereignty is the most important part of the UK constitution. For example in 2001 there was an act amending the Terrorism Act 2001.

    The aim of this was to “To amend the Terrorism Act 2000; to make further provision about terrorism and security; to provide for the freezing of assets; to make provision about immigration and asylum; to amend or extend the criminal law and powers for preventing crime and enforcing that law; to make provision about the control of pathogens and toxins; to provide for the retention of communications data. ” This proves the sovereignty of parliament, by suing its power to amend any changes made by, for example the judiciary.

    My second point on the other side of the argument is the fact that that there no entrenchment in the UK, making the erosion of civil liberties much easier. For example the issue on ID cards and other actions that could threaten individual security. Due to these threatening erosions, there is proof that it is negatively effecting hence the creation of NOID Campaign. NO2ID is a campaigning organisation. They are a single-issue group focussed on the threat to liberty and privacy posed by the rapid growth of the database state, of which “ID cards” were the most visible part. They are entirely independent.

    We do not endorse any party, nor campaign on any other topic. This shows that due to this erosion, this is able to happen because of the country’s entrenchment. My final point is the fact that Minister in our political system can still act in secrecy if they wish which is violation of freedom of knowledge, and full accountability from Parliamentary. An example of this is how the British Justice Secretary vetoes the publication of the Iraq war minutes, making some of the things said within the meetings secret from the public for 25 years, due to Tony Blair’s government. This is an erosion of our civil liberties.

    Another example is the unjustified NHS risk register getting vetoed; this is of the same category. The Information Commissioner says the government’s refusal to publish the full risk assessment of the planned changes to the NHS is unjustified and departs from policy. Secrecy of information is an erosion of civil liberties. Thus in conclusion there sari certain cases , which I have already stated where the Judiciary can protect individuals from erosions of civil liberties due to the fact that they have the ECHR , and how they act strictly of rule of law , and are very strict on Human Rights , the fair judges create a non-eroded individual .

    But when we delve further and find out that certain powers of the judiciary are restrained by the sovereignty of parliament t, and the pro activeness of judges, it makes us think whether they can be protective. Overall I think that the Judiciary can protect individuals from erosions of civil liberties, but with the overwhelming power of Parliament, it makes it difficult to do so.

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    Protection of the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens from the State or Other Organizations. (2016, Nov 12). Retrieved from

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