Daily Digest: Cameron proposes to weaken human rights court

The British government wishes to reform the European Court of Human Rights. The British are growing tired of the meddling by the court in national, especially British, affairs. British Prime Minister David Cameron argues that the institution is both inefficient and suffers from a democratic deficit. A concrete case that has recently fueled the desire to weaken the supranational court is that of the radical Islamist, Abu Qatada whom the government wants to extradite to Jordan where he will face terrorism charges. The human rights court has overruled this, saying that Qatada may only be extradited if Jordan can promise a fair trial. UK will hold a meeting in Brighton today with ministers and senior representatives from the Council of Europe, the Strasbourg-based body which governs the court, where they will discuss the new ideas of reforming the court. The initiative has caused outrage, and the German government has already tried to defuse the proposal, ahead of the Brighton meeting. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch warn that in countries without functioning judicial systems, Strasbourg is often the only place people can turn for justice, and the situation for citizens in a number of countries would thus worsen dramatically if the proposal were to be implemented.

EU condemn an Argentinean move to seize the controlling share of the YPF oil company which is owned by the Spanish company, Repsol. President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso has expressed deep disappointment, and EU foreign ministers will meet on Monday to discuss the issue. A general tendency of protectionism from the Argentinean government is of great irritation to EU officials, and they will try to work out the legal possibilities of reacting to the seizure.

The Hungarian government said yesterday it will alter legislation due to criticism from the EU on lacking independence of the central bank. The European Commission has lately pressured the Viktor Orban government in Budapest on withdrawing legislation that increases state control on the judiciary, the media and the central bank. Budapest is in need of financial aid from EU, which is seen as the main, if not only, reason for finally making this concession.

Not all Spaniards suffer under the struggling Spanish economy. While his country is in a desperate financial situation, the Spanish King Juan Carlos I decided to go for a hunting trip in Botswana. The expensive trip has caused outrage in Spanish media and among the public who are angered by the image of their king on safari while half of the young population are unemployed. The king was flown back to a hospital in Spain after breaking his hip on the trip, and this was the only reason why the media found out about the trip. The 74-year-old king has now apologised for his mistake.

In Italy the museum director of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Naples, Antonio Manfredi has started burning the museum’s artworks in protest against budget cuts, saying that “our 1,000 artworks are headed for destruction anyway because of the government’s indifference”. He is supported by various artists who join the protest and acknowledge destruction of their works. Mr. Manfredi says he will burn three paintings every week until the funding situation improves.

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