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Clarke in rights court reform calls

British courts are best placed to understand British problems and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was never intended to be an appeal court for routine cases, the Justice Secretary will say.

Kenneth Clarke will say the Strasbourg-based human rights court is "overloaded and can't recover without further reform".

His comments come after David Cameron launched a drive to reform the court last month amid anger in the UK over rulings which blocked the deportation of radical cleric Abu Qatada and required the extension of voting rights to prison inmates.

In a speech at the Austrian Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, Mr Clarke will say: "Our proposals to reform the court of human rights are not driven by a particular case or political controversy.

"It is built instead on the need to ensure that the ECHR is better able to carry out the role that its founders intended for it: the protection of fundamental human rights for the long-term."

He will go on: "This is a system that is overloaded and can't recover without further reform. I believe that addressing this problem is a matter of urgency. It is individual states and their courts which have primary responsibility for implementing the convention and granting effective remedies.

"At times, I consider that the court has been too ready to substitute its own judgment for that of national courts and parliaments.

"It was never meant to be a court of appeal for routine domestic judgments. No court could ever hope to offer redress to 800 million people. National courts are in the best position to understand national problems."

Just 45,000 cases were presented to the court in its first 40 years, but in 2010 alone it was asked to consider 61,300 applications.

Mr Clarke will also say that the human rights court "should be free to deal with the most serious violations of human rights, not swamped with an endless backlog of cases".


From Belfast Telegraph