The judgment of Lord Kinclaven yesterday that Chan Wright, a serial rapist convicted of raping three women in Scotland over a 15-year period, should be subject to a lifelong restriction order and be deported after he has served his sentence will be widely regarded not only as just but essential to protect the public.
His victims, however, will not be able to rest easy until Wright, a Jamaican immigrant, is out of the country. This is because, despite an earlier conviction for rape, he successfully appealed against deportation in 2005 after serving a sentence for cocaine trafficking. An immigration tribunal had decided on the strength of a risk-assessment report that he posed a high risk of committing further sex and drug offences and should be deported. Yet three Court of Session judges concluded this was "irrational and not justified" and overturned the decision.
In the light of Wright's continuing campaign of rape and brutality, it is the decision to allow him to stay that must be deemed irrational and not justified. It now transpires that the third victim was raped and two other women subjected to indecent assaults after the judges' decision seven years ago. However, the other rapes were not then known about.
This disturbing case highlights a difficulty with human rights law, leading to the criticism that the European Convention on Human Rights is undermining the justice system in countries which subscribe to it.
Wright's case for being allowed to stay was that he had a partner and children in Scotland who would not move to Jamaica if he were deported. To force him to go would breach his right to a family life. This has become the main ground of appeal for convicted criminals contesting deportation from the UK, overtaking the risk of torture or ill treatment in their home country. A groundswell of public protest at the increasing number of convicted criminals allowed to stay in Britain has prompted Home Secretary Theresa May to promise a revision of immigration rules. Last month the Brighton Declaration, a raft of amendments to the ECHR by 47 member countries took a step towards strengthening the judicial power of individual states.
The UK Border Agency deported 4500 offenders who were foreign nationals last year. Wright will now join that number after he has served at least six years of his life sentence in prison. But that can be of little comfort to the women he assaulted and raped.
Upholding human rights is an essential pillar of a civilised country and the right to a family life is a recognition that the family is a cornerstone of society. Those who trample on such ideals by their callous and depraved behaviour cannot expect their rights to be valued above the right of their victims to live without fear. Deportation must always be the consequence of serious criminal behaviour.
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