Bailiwick Politician raises awareness on European Court of human rights

slimmer John donnelly
Deputy Editor – John Donnelly
Back in 1982 when Deputy Peter Roffey entered the Bailiwick political arena, his critics would quite probably have regarded him as a bit of a firebrand who would get burned out with his eagerness to take up all sorts of causes which at the time appeared to ruffle feathers of the establishment. In more recent times, Deputy Roffey has been accepted as something of a steady pair of hands and his most recent manifesto even contained a paragraph of recommendation from Former Bailiff Sir de Vic Carey correctly referring to his “tremendous value to the electorate.” Just as a little background to Deputy Roffey’s life experience, his manifesto included reference to experience as a senior BBC journalist, leading one of the Island’s most successful commercial businesses to being trapped inside Iran’s Islamic Revolution and being badly injured in Indonesia’s 2004 tsunami which killed over 200,000 people. Against this background Deputy Roffey’s recent expression of unease at the prospect of the possibility of the United Kingdom government withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights must raise concerns for the Bailiwick and indeed Jersey and the Isle of Man.
The recent Guernsey Press article headed ‘Do islanders need protection from their own government?’ starts by explaining the often misunderstood background to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in that it is a convention brought about by the Council of Europe following the Second World War with the involvement of British parliamentarian and lawyer Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe and the British wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill: OPINION: Do islanders need protection from their own government? | Guernsey Press. With the connection between the European Union and the ECHR safely debunked, Deputy Roffey goes on to emphasise clearly, and with some concern, the serious consequences which might arise should the present British government move to set itself and its related jurisdictions free from the confines of the ECHR. His article states in highlighted text: 
‘No government, driven to implement its policy agenda, is best placed to judge whether the means they use to do so fully protect the rights of its individual citizens. Human nature means they will be less than objective.’ By coincidence the importance of the urgency for protection of human rights in Europe in the 1940s, just as it is today, was exacerbated by the waging of aggressive war. It is not just the cruelty visited upon the citizens of Ukraine which must be foremost in people’s minds but the indifference of some nearby nations to the suffering which is troubling. If out of concern for economic circumstances or political gain human rights are being overruled or compromised within the body of Europe, then all Bailiwick residents must be concerned. In Winston Churchill’s Zurich speech on 19th September 1946, he said: 
“…we must re-create the European family in a regional structure called, it may be, the United States of Europe, and the first practical step will be to form a Council of Europe. If at first all the States of Europe are not willing or able to join the union, we must nevertheless proceed to assemble and combine those who will and those who can.” 
On 7th May 1948 Churchill addressing the Hague Congress as Honorary President said: 
“Since I spoke on this subject at Zurich in 1946 … events have carried our affair beyond our expectations … We aim at the eventual participation of all European peoples whose society and way of life are not in disaccord with a charter of human rights and the sincere expression of free democracy.” 
In conclusion, it must surely be reassuring to Bailiwick residents that we seem to have our very own Churchillian in the somewhat unlikely form of the self-confessed ‘overweight vegetarian, Bordeaux boy, traveller, on/off deputy since 1982, Co-op in DNA, former hack, survivor of Iranian Revolution + Boxing Day Tsunami’ – courtesy of Peter John “Rufus” Roffey (@PeterRoffey5)/Twitter). 

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