Roy Prockter update

by Campaign ~ March 15th, 2012. Filed under: News.

The case of Roy Prockter is now ‘stayed’ in the domestic courts of the United Kingdom pending an application for review by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).There was a pre-trial review which according to Roy went extremely well. He was refused leave to make any further appeal under English Law and the judgement was stayed for six months for him to take it to Strasbourg and then until the ECHR determine the case, which if the case is found admissible could be some years.

The Peace Tax Seven frustratingly met, in the domestic courts, a line of apparently consistent Strasbourg jurisprudence which blocked the way. However, these lines of jurisprudence were no more than early 1980s European Commission reports – they were not even judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. When the Peace Tax Seven went to Strasbourg they were simply met with a refusal to accept that the claim was admissible with no reasons given.

The terrain has now changed. On the 1st December 2009 the effects of the signing of the Lisbon Treaty brought into domestic effect in the UK the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This has transformed the arguments available to conscientious objectors to milita5ry taxation. The Charter has direct effect. Insofar as UK primary or secondary legislation conflicts with the Charter, that legislation would have to be disapplied. Further, some of the rights are not to be found in the European Convention on Human Rights and one of those missing rights is very important for Roy’s cause. Article 10 of the Charter reads as follows:

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom to change religion or belief in freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or in private, to manifest religion or belief, teaching, practice and observance.
  2. The right to conscientious objection is recognised, in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of this right.”

Thus, the right to conscientious objection is enshrined within the Charter. It has been argued that this might well mean that an individual eligible for public funding (Legal Aid) could now re-litigate the issue that we tried to litigate for the Peace Tax 7 with much more success.

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