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by Ray Fleming

B elarus -- landlocked country in Eastern Europe which declared its independence when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991; population of about ten million. Links to Britain? Very few but they have one thing in common. They are the only two countries of the 47 member Council of Europe (no relation to the European Union Council) which have not signed the European Convention of Human Rights. Hardly surprising therefore that two of Britain's most senior law and order ministers -- Home Secretary Theresa May and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling -- were advocating over the weekend further detachment from the Convention and from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

It is interesting to see how different Conservative ministers are using the Eastleigh by-election debacle to press for reform action on their pet projects. Mr Grayling wants to abolish the Human Rights Act and Mrs May is pressing for a mandate at the next election for total withdrawal from the Human Rights Convention. David Cameron is denying that he plans a “lurch to the right” following UKIP's strong vote at Eastleigh but obviously not all his ministers agree with him. Britain was a founder member of the Council of Europe in 1949 with strong backing from Winston Churchill. The Liberal Democrats must now use all their influence in the coalition to stop Conservative extremists from destroying the progress made on Human Rights over seventy years.