No extradition for Shrien Dewani – for now

The Government of the Republic of South Africa v Shrien Dewani- Read decision

The extradition to South Africa of Shrien Dewani, the man accused of murdering his wife on honeymoon there in 2010, has been delayed pending an improvement in his mental health.

The case made headlines in 2010, when the story broke of a honeymooning couple who had been ambushed in the township of Gugulethu, South Africa. Mr Dewani told police he had been travelling in a taxi which was ambushed by two men. He described being forced from the car at gunpoint and the car driving away with his wife still inside. She was found dead shortly after.  However, evidence emerged which led the South African authorities to believe that Mr Dewani had initiated a conspiracy with the taxi driver and the men who ambushed the taxi to murder his new wife. Consequently, they sought his extradition from the UK, to which he had returned, to face a trial for murder.

In an appeal to the High Court from a decision by a Senior District Judge that Mr Dewani could be extradited, Mr Dewani made two arguments:
1.    Prison conditions in South Africa were such that his Articles 2 (right to life) and 3 (prohibition on torture, inhuman and degrading treatment) Convention rights would be violated if he were extradited;

2.    His mental health and risk of suicide were such that his should not be extradited. Continue reading

All by myself: segregation, prisons and Article 6

Bourgass and others v Secretary of State for Justice [2012] EWCA Civ 376 Read decision

The ability to interact with other prisoners is a major part of prison life, and not one many prisoners would give up willingly. But there are circumstances where prisoners have to be segregated from the rest of the prison population, such as where they are posing a violent threat to another prisoner or planning an escape. The Court of Appeal has recently looked into the question of how decisions to segregate are made, including the initial decision, the review of the decision and ultimately judicial review, in a human rights context.

Continue reading

From County Court Strike Out to Strasbourg Success

Reynolds v United Kingdom [2012] ECHR 437 – read judgment

What – if anything – can a claimant do when she suspects that the domestic law is not only out of kilter with Strasbourg jurisprudence but is also denying her even an opportunity to bring a claim? Taking arms against a whole legal system may be an heroic ideal, but the mundane reality is a strike out under CPR rule 3.4 by a district judge in the County Court. It is a long way from there to the European Court of Human Rights.

This was the position in which Patricia Reynolds and her daughter Catherine King found themselves following the sad death of (respectively) their son and brother. David Reynolds suffered from schizophrenia. On 16 March 2005 he contacted his NHS Care Co-ordinator and told him that he was hearing voices telling him to kill himself. There were no beds available in the local psychiatric unit, so Mr Reynolds was placed in a Council run intensive support unit. His room was on the sixth floor and at about 10.30 that night Mr Reynolds broke his (non-reinforced) window and fell to his death. Continue reading

Cornish waste incinerator case reversed- expectation not legitimate after all

R (o.t.a Cornwall Waste Forum, St Dennis Branch) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Court of Appeal, 29 March 2012, read judgment

The CA has just held that Collins J was wrong to hold (per my previous post) that the local NGO had a legitimate expectation that the Secretary of State would decide an air pollution issue, rather than  leave it to the Environment Agency. In a nutshell, the Inspector (and hence the Secretary of State) was entitled to change his mind on this issue. So the expectation crumbled, and so did this judicial review to quash a decision to allow a waste incinerator to proceed.

Continue reading

Suspected terrorist regains British citizenship

Hilal Abdul-Razzaq  Ali Al‐Jedda v Secretary of State for the Home Department March 29 – read judgment

The Court of Appeal has allowed the suspected terrorist Al‐Jedda’s appeal against the Home Secretary’s decision to deprive him of his British nationality.

The appellant, an Iraqi refugee, was granted British nationality in 2000. Four years later however he was detained by British forces in Iraq on grounds of suspected terrorist activities. At the end of  2007 he was released from detention without charge, but just prior to his release, on 14 December 2007, the Secretary of State for the Home Department made an order under the British Nationality Act 1981 depriving him of his British nationality. As a consequence of this order the appellant has not been able to return from Turkey to the United Kingdom. His appeal against this order has been upheld on the basis that he had not regained Iraqi nationality when his British nationality was revoked. He thus requalifies for citizenship in this country. Continue reading

Promptness yet again in judicial review: It’s Complicated

Berky, R (on the application of) v. Newport City Council, Court of Appeal, 29 March 2012, read judgment

 Two first-instance cases last year (Buglife, and Broads) considered whether a defendant to a judicial review involving a European point can complain that the proceedings were not commenced “promptly” even though they were commenced within the 3 month time limit. Both judges decided that this argument could not be advanced, even though the wording in CPR rule 54.5(1) reads  “promptly and in any event not later than 3 months.”  The Court of Appeal has now (by a whisker) approved these cases, though there was a vigorous dissent on one important  point from Carnwath LJ. The point was in one sense academic, because the Court thought there was no merit in the underlying proceedings, but the ruling is still important.

Continue reading

Can a homosexual person adopt his or her partner’s child? The case of Gas and Dubois v France.

Gas and Dubois v France (2012) (application no 25951/07).  Read judgment (in French).

The French government did not violate articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 14 ECHR (right not to be discriminated against in one’s enjoyment of Convention rights and freedoms) in not allowing one partner in a homosexual couple to adopt the child of the other.  And the Daily Mail goes off on another frolic of its own.

Ms Valerie Gas and Ms Nathalie Dubois, now in their 50s, lived together as a lesbian couple, obtaining the French equivalent of a civil partnership (the pacte civil de solidarité, or PACS) in 2002.  Ms Dubois, through artificial insemination in Belgium using an anonymous sperm donor, gave birth to a girl in September 2000.  Together, they took care of the child and, in 2006 , Ms Gas, applied to adopt the girl with the consent of her partner, Ms Dubois.  Continue reading