PRESSURE ON JUDGES TO DEAL WITH ‘RIGHT TO FAMILY LIFE’ EXCUSE

Although the principles developed under the European Convention on Human Rights were aimed at ensuring individuals had basic, protected rights (like the right to family life), recent media coverage has highlighted the fact that a number of foreign criminals are now using these rights as excuses to avoid being deported. These situations are an outright abuse of human rights law, and in particular, Theresa May has been working on ensuring these abuses are stopped.

Theresa May has spoken out publicly about her outrage of the ECHR abuses, and has plans for new immigration laws to be in place by the summer. These new laws aim to prevent foreign criminals from being able to use, amongst other excuses, the ‘right to family life’ argument. Her plans have made it absolutely clear that those that cannot support themselves, or have a committed a crime, will not be allowed to stay in the country.

Her stance on this subject has been further evidenced by her actions in relation to Abu Qatada, the cleric whose deportation to Jordan was inhibited at the beginning of this year by the European Court of Human Rights. She stated, “the public want him to be deported, I want him to be deported”. She has been known for her strong stance on immigration, and believes that the new immigration law changes will obtain support from politicians and the public alike, regardless of their political bearing.

Current government dislike has inflated due to recent issues concerning tax changes, the Budget and claims that MPs fuelled panic over petrol shortages. It is therefore likely that this latest move by Theresa May will boost support for the government. Immigration issues were identified in a number of political surveys last year as being a top priority for the public, and so witnessing changes in government policy that aim to positively tackle this issue will be likely to gain support for the government.

The changes to the use of Article 8 Right to Family Life will be emphasised to judges, highlighting that the Right will not have the power to stop the deportation of someone who has either committed a crime, not complied with immigration law or who cannot support themselves in the country. This will be because Ministers are changing immigration law around the end of July so that the right to family life argument can only be used in exceptional and rare circumstances. Previous dismay has been brought to light over the judges’ failure to use the Article 8 argument properly, ignoring in-built provisions which include the prevention of disorder or crime as a legitimate reason for deportation.

This change to immigration law is needed after Labour passed the UK Borders Act 2007, which greyed areas concerning deportation by allowing an exemption from deportation if there had been a breach of human rights.  This change will therefore attempt to make the issue clearer.

In the current economic climate, where unemployment is at a record high, and the general public are worried about their jobs and the economy, the country cannot afford to allow people to stay here who either cannot support themselves (and are therefore a drain on the public resources), or who are committing crimes/not complying with immigration law, and yet are using Article 8 as a way to remain in the country. If Theresa May’s efforts succeed therefore, many would welcome the change.