Jewish human rights charity protests about Europe Convention exit threat by Tories

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Jewish human rights charity protests about Europe Convention exit threat by Tories

Mia Hasenson-Gross, executive director of René Cassin, reminds Greg Hands MP the European Convention on Human Rights was 'drawn up by the United Nations as a response to the horrors of the Holocaust'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Young activists campaigning for refugees (Credit Rene Cassin)
Young activists campaigning for refugees (Credit Rene Cassin)

A Jewish human rights charity has written to Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands MPs to stress the importance of the European Convention on Human Rights, which it says has “underpinned individual liberties in the UK” since the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Mia Hasenson-Gross, the executive director of René Cassin, wrote to Hands following a controversial speech given by home secretary Suella Braverman, in which she questioned whether the UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights.

She wrote:”It has been alarming to hear members of the government and other Conservatives recently calling for the UK to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Have they forgotten their history?

“The Convention gave legal weight to the aspirations expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was drawn up by the United Nations as a response to the horrors of the Holocaust.”

Greg Hands speaks at Tory conference in Manchester

During this week’s Tory Party conference in Manchester Michael Gove, the levelling-up secretary, and Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary, both said that the option to leave should be kept on the table.

But security minister Tom Tugendhat MP warned of the consequences of leaving the convention, pointing out that it shored up the Good Friday agreement. He asked: “What does it mean for the agreements we’ve struck already that are underpinned by it? I would like some answers.”

In her letter to Hands, Hasenson-Gross also wrote:”The European Convention on Human Rights has underpinned individual liberties in the UK for 70 years.

“It is particularly important in protecting minority communities. Those calling for the UK to withdraw from the Convention are reckless and irresponsible.

“Even if they are careless about individual liberties, dismissive of minority rights, and ignorant of the history behind the Convention, they should think twice about advocating a policy that could threaten peace in Northern Ireland, break up the UK, and leave Britain in a ‘club’ with Russia and Belarus”.

She also remined the Tory chairman that the convention was written by a Conservative British lawyer David Maxwell Fyfe and was supported by Winston Churchill.

The charity chief addeded the convention was key to rebuilding a peaceful and stable Europe after the atrocities of the Second World War.

Braverman’s complaint about the ECHR was that it supported asylum for people who were not just fleeing war and execution but discrimination.

The home secretary, who has been heavily criticised for her speech in Washington DC last week, has also been challenged by the Refugee Council over her claim that most asylum seekers are economic migrants.

New analysis suggests that three out of four people crossing the English Channel in small boats this year would be granted asylum if their claims were processed, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Using Home Office statistics on Channel crossings, the Refugee Council said that 74% of arrivals in 2023 would be recognised as asylum seekers, an increase from 65% last year.

The figures contradict Braverman’s claim, made in December last year, that “70% of individuals on small boats are single men who are effectively economic migrants”.

Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “The reality is that the men, women and children who come to the UK by taking terrifying journeys across the world’s busiest shipping lane are desperately seeking safety, having fled persecution, terror and oppression.”

Solomon, whose father’s family are Jewish, added: “Closing down the asylum system will simply result in vast cost, chaos and human misery with tens of thousands of people stuck in permanent limbo.”

Suella Braverman gives latest anti immigration speech in Washington DC (Sky News)

The report, entitled The Truth About Channel Crossings and the Impact of the Illegal Migration Act, analyses Home Office statistics on Channel crossings.

On Sunday, Braverman was criticised by former home secretary Priti Patel over her claim that multiculturalism had failed.

Speaking on Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips on Sky News, Patel said of Braverman’s comments: “To me this is very much making interventions, statements, but actually I think we have to be realistic here that that’s not a substitute for delivery around changes to policy in government.

“Now I don’t know what the intention was around that. It might just be to get attention, to have the dividing lines that your previous commentators were mentioning as we go into the run-up to a general election.”

There is mounting speculation that Rishi Sunak is getting ready to axe Braverman in a reshuffle that will allow him to claim he has reasserted his authority over his top team.

Downing Street sources suggest the prime minister is aware how divisive she had become, even amongst MPs in his won party.

It is also unclear how much support Braverman has amongst those on the right of the party, leading to claims it would be easier for Sunak to axe her than had previously been suggested.

On Wednesday Sunak will deliver a speech to the Tory Party faithful, with polls continuing to suggest the Conservatives face defeat to Labour at the next election.

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