Even the judges are getting angry – The Roundup

It’s time for the human rights roundup, a regular bulletin of all the law we haven’t quite managed to feature in full blog posts. The full list of links, updated each day, can be found here.

#Without Prejudice – The Law Podcast 1: Assange, EAW, British Bill of Rights, Oversupply of lawyers and Silk

Listen to a one hour discussion between David Allen Green, Carl Gardner, Charon QC and guests about this week’s topical legal issues.

Adoption: new guidance to break down barriers

In order to address the fall in number of children placed for adoption, the government has issued guidance to local authorities whereby people wanting to adopt can no longer be turned away on the grounds of race, age or social background.

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“Torture is wrong”: Discuss

Ahmed & Anor v R [2011] EWCA Crim 184 (25 February 2011) – Read judgment

“Torture is wrong”. The court of appeal made this simple and it would be hoped obvious statement in the appeal of two men convicted of terrorism and being active members of Al Qaeda. But, it turns out, the position on torture is not as clear as those three simple words.

Rangzieb Ahmed and Habib Ahmed were British citizens, born in Lancashire. They were jailed in 2008 for being members of Al Qeaeda and planning mass murder. During the trial, Rangzieb applied to the judge to stop the prosecution, on the basis that it would be an abuse of process to try him. He claimed that he was tortured whilst he was in custody in Pakistan. He said that amongst other things, he had been beaten and had his fingernails removed. He also claimed that British officers questioned him on one day of his captivity.

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When does life mean life?

Peter Sutcliffe

 

Three convicted murderers are challenging their sentences in the European Court of Human Rights. They claim that the rare “whole life” tariffs which have been imposed in their cases is contrary to their human rights.

Jeremy BamberPeter Moore and Douglas Vinter were all convicted for murder and therefore sentenced to life imprisonment, which is the mandatory sentence for the crime. It has been so since death penalty was abolished in 1969.  However, as is well-known, life does not always mean life, and when a judge passes sentence he also sets a tariff, which is the number of years before which the prisoner will be eligible to be considered for early release on licence. The rules have already been altered to make them compatible with fair trial rights. Will they have to be altered again?

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Julian Assange must face rape charges in Sweden, rules court

The judicial authority in Sweden -v- Julian Paul Assange – Read judgment

Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, must face charges of sexual assault and rape in Sweden, the chief magistrate Howard Riddle has ruled.

The case will almost certainly be appealed, so in reality there may not be a final decision for many months. Assange has a right of appeal on law or fact to the High Court under section 26 of the Extradition Act 2003. Assange has 7 days to appeal, but otherwise the extradition would usually take 10 days to execute.

Assange’s skeleton argument, that is a summary of his legal arguments during the hearing, can be found here. You can find my previous post on the subject here, including an explanation of the law surrounding his potential extradition. Carl Gardner, of the Head of Legal blog, also provides an excellent post here.

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Will churches really be sued for not allowing civil partnerships?

On 17 February the Home Secretary announced that the government was moving ahead with changes to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 which would allow the registration of civil partnerships to take place in religious premises.

While welcomed by many, some have voiced concerns that permission will inevitably become coercion. They fear that religious organisations may face legal action if they refuse to facilitate civil partnership ceremonies, a claim the Government denies. But will they?

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When eviction breaches human rights

Updated | London Borough of Hounslow v Powell [2011] UKSC 8 (23 February 2011) - Read judgment / press summary

The Supreme Court has given important guidance as to when eviction from local authority housing amounts to a breach of a tenant’s human rights. It has also confirmed that courts should have the power to consider the proportionality of previously automatic possession orders relating to council properties.

The judgment forms a double act with the recent decision in Manchester City Council (Respondent) v Pinnock (Appellant), a path-breaking ruling in which the Supreme Court  held that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to private and family life) requires that a court, when asked by a local authority to make an order for possession of a person’s home, must have the power to assess the proportionality of making the order (see Nearly Legal’s excellent discussion of that decision).

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Football “rioter” Garry Mann loses Euro human rights appeal

Garry Norman MANN v Portugual and the United Kingdom – 360/10 [2011] ECHR 337 (1 February 2011) – Read judgment

Garry Mann, a football fan who was convicted to two years in a Portuguese jail for rioting after an England match in 2004, has lost his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against his conviction and extradition.

Mann has always denied taking part in the riot. The full background to the case is set out here. The case has been subject to a number of court hearings in the UK, including two judicial review hearings against his proposed extradition to Portugal to serve his prison sentence. He has also already had a claim in the European court rejected.

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