British Public Opinion Turning Against European Convention on Human Rights

British Public Opinion Turning Against European Convention on Human Rights

I know these polls might not reflect a whole lot of deliberation or thoughtfulness, but still, it is amazing to me:

Nearly three quarters of Britons think human rights have become a ‘charter for criminals’, a poll has revealed.

It showed a strong majority of 72 per cent hold negative views about the role of human rights laws.

Only one in six said human rights had not become a charter for criminals and the undeserving.

This is not a good trend for the ECHR and it would be interesting to see if this type of popular opinion will make a difference in UK policy or reform of its implementation of the ECHR.

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Europe, International Human Rights Law
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Wim Muller
Wim Muller

This is not particularly surprising considering the influence that the tabloids wield on public opinion in the UK, and they have been happy to play up and misrepresent the fairly rare judgments in which the UK was condemned for violations. Among the general public, “human rights” tends to be seen as something that protects criminals, whereas the freedom of speech and association, and the like are associated with “civil rights” or even “British civil rights”. There is a segment of the Conservative Party that is more than happy to go along with this, which is a bit ironic considering the significant role the UK played in establishing the ECHR. Unfortunately, a similar anti-ECHR trend is occurring in other European countries as well, such as the Netherlands, although it does not seem to have reached the same level as in the UK.
As for the question whether this impacts UK policy, I suppose the best way to keep track of that is by following the excellent UK human rights blog at, while the ECHR blog ( also tends to be on top of things.


I agree with the previous commentator. I couldn’t find the wording of the actual questions asked in the poll, but the fact that the Daily Mail features this poll by saying that it ‘will heap pressure on ministers to secure major reforms to the European Court of Human Rights’ could well be a sign of the poll’s intentions and could also explain its timing. If you ask people whether they think it makes sense to have a system in place to make sure you don’t get put in jail for no reason, most would say human rights are a good thing. In all likelihood, this includes Britons.

Mihai Martoiu Ticu

U.K. can always get out of the treaty and see whether their lives get better. Maybe they could also row further away from the Continent.