Letter: Opting out should not be an option

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Sir: It is certainly time states were deprived of the right to opt out of individual petitions to Strasbourg (Letters, 21 March). This right was only inserted, when the Convention was drafted in 1950, because the parties did not want to commit themselves until they saw how the system would work. Now that all parties have effectively accepted the right, the option is outdated.

There was some discussion of this in the parliamentary debate on the Council of Europe on 18 March. In reply, the Foreign Office minister said that the Government had not come to a decision. While the UK has had more cases (49), and more findings of violations (30), than any other country, size of population should also be taken into account. Of the 324 cases decided between 1959 and 1993, Austria had 40 with 30 findings of violations. The records of Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands are all proportionately worse than ours.

It is also important to take account of when a state accepted the right of individual petition, which the UK died in 1966. France, which in recent years has had more cases in court than any other state, did not accept until 1981.

Yours faithfully,


Acting Director

The British Institute

of Human Rights

London, WC2