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22 April 2024

Britain blasts judges for 'ignoring' deportation rules


Britain's interior minister slammed the judiciary on Sunday, accusing judges of "subverting" democracy by ignoring rules aimed at deporting more foreign criminals.

Home Secretary Theresa May, writing in The Mail on Sunday newspaper, said some judges had chosen to "ignore parliament's wishes" by disregarding guidance making clear that convicted criminals' rights to a family life had limits.

The guidance dating from last year was aimed at ending a string of cases where Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights was being used to justify granting foreign criminals the right to remain in Britain rather than being deported.

May said some judges had "got it into their heads that Article 8... is an absolute, unqualified right.

"Unfortunately, some judges evidently do not regard a debate in parliament on new immigration rules, followed by the unanimous adoption of those rules, as evidence that parliament actually wants to see those new rules implemented," she wrote.

"It is essential to democracy that the elected representatives of the people make the laws that govern this country -- and not the judges.

"Yet some judges seem to believe that they can ignore parliament's wishes if they think that the procedures for parliamentary scrutiny have been 'weak'. That appears actually to mean that they can ignore parliament when they think it came to the wrong conclusion.

"The law in this country is made by the elected representatives of the people in parliament. And our democracy is subverted when judges decide to take on that role for themselves."

Judges who allowed criminals to stay in Britain merely reinforced public perceptions of human rights as simply "legal dodges that allow criminals to escape proper punishment and to continue to prey on the public."

May said she would now bring forward new laws making clear that deportation should be the norm in everything except "extraordinary circumstances".

"The inevitable delays inherent in passing primary legislation will mean that there will be many more foreign criminals who successfully avoid deportation on the basis that they have a family here," she wrote.

"There will also be more victims of violent crimes committed by foreigners in this country -- foreigners who should have been, and could have been, deported."