Drones, “Ex-Gay” Bus Advert and Train Track Constitutionalism – the Human Rights Roundup

HRR ex-gay advertWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular bountiful burst of human rights news and views.  The full list of links can be found here.  You can find previous roundups here.  Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Celia Rooney. 

This week, the pragmatic, political and constitutional ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision in the HS2 case are up for debate.  Meanwhile, the European Court considers whether the Charter of Rights applies in private disputes, while the domestic courts take on the tricky issue of the justiciability of US drones strikes in Pakistan. And the Court of Appeal rules on TfL’s bus advert ban.

An unashamed plug: A few tickets still left for this Thursday’s event featuring Adam Wagner amongst others – Human Rights Behind the Headlines

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State Immunity, Atheist Asylum and Children’s Views – the Human Rights Roundup

Atheist bus campaignWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular bustling bonanza of human rights news and views.  The full list of links can be found here.  You can find previous roundups here.  Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd. 

After a long wait, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment on state immunity in civil proceedings in Jones and Others v UK. Meanwhile, an atheist has been granted asylum on religious grounds and the Supreme Court ruled that a child’s views are relevant to the evaluation of their habitual residence.

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State immunity upheld against human rights challenges in Strasbourg

Saudi_mapJones and Others v. the United Kingdom (application nos. 34356/06 and 40528/06) – read judgement

The Strasbourg Court has ruled that the inability of four men to bring torture compensation claims against Saudi Arabia in UK courts did not breach the Convention.  The Court held that a “grant of immunity to the state officials in the present case reflected generally recognised rules of public international law”  and that there had been no violation of  Article 6 (right of access to court).

The claimants argued that there there was emerging support for a special exception to this immunity in cases concerning civil claims for torture lodged against foreign State officials. But the Court took the view that the bulk of the authority was to the effect that the State’s right to immunity may not be circumvented by suing its servants or agents instead. The fact that conduct was unlawful or objectionable was not, of itself, a ground for refusing immunity. Continue reading

Lawyers Protest Cuts, Constitutional Nihilism and Libel Liberalisation – the Human Rights Roundup

Justice-Alliance-2014-demoWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular wholesome takeaway of human rights news and views.  The full list of links can be found here.  You can find previous roundups here.  Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd. 

Welcome to 2014 and Santa has brought us the Defamation Act 2013, which aims to reduce the ‘chilling effect’ of previous libel laws . But as we enter 2014, not all is new. The Conservative Party continues to complain about European human rights. They seek to challenge the ECtHR ban on prison life sentences. How to deal with this? With hundreds of years of imprisonment instead. Meanwhile, today criminal lawyers will refuse to appear at court in order to protest against legal aid and criminal barrister fee cuts.

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UK Human Rights Blog 2013 in review

Happy new year UKHRBWhat a year! As the UK Human Rights Blog approaches 2,000 posts and three million hits since its launch in March 2010, below is a link to a summary of the year in stats. No great surprises as to the most popular posts, which track the most controversial issues in human rights.

The main thing to report is that the blog remains extremely popular, with almost 1.2 million hits in 2013 alone, as well as tens of thousands of regular readers and subscribers. Thank you to the contribution of all of our bloggers, both from 1 Crown Office Row (particularly the indefatigable Rosalind English and David Hart QC) and elsewhere, to our wonderful rounder uppers (Daniel Isenberg, Sarina Kidd and Celia Rooney) and to our fantastic commenters who keep us on our toes all over social media.

This year has been the toughest yet for me in keeping the blog ticking along at the pace you are all used to (I have another full time job – being a barrister), but thankfully I have just about managed it. Unfortunately, this has meant I haven’t been able to post as much as I like but I continue to be very proud of the blog’s achievements and influence.

In light of the Conservative Party’s impending plans for human rights reform (which, as was pointed out by Neil Crowther on Twitter, looked to be tracking Dominic Raab’s 2010 blueprint and 2012 bill pretty closely), 2014 is likely to be another interesting year. As always, thanks to our still rather shiny Human Rights Act, there will be plenty of fascinating decisions from our courts too.

All the best and happy new year to all.

Click here to see the complete end of year report.

Times on the legal naughty step for bizarre ‘right to marry’ headline splash

photoThe debate over the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights is already mired with misunderstanding (see this and this), but amazingly Saturday’s Times (£) managed to up the stupid-quotient by another few notches.

The headline was “Ministers to block ‘right to marry’ in EU backlash“. Apparently the Government has “vowed to block a fresh push to introduce new EU human rights, such as the right to marry and the right to collective bargaining, into Britain“. And as the Times’ political editor Francis Elliot (not to be confused with the generally sound legal correspondent Frances Gibb) reported:

The charter enshrines a host of rights not found in other declarations, including personal, work and family relations. One of them is a proposed “right to marry and found a family”.

The only problem is that… the right to “marry and found a family” already exists in the European Convention on Human Rights. It’s in Article 12. It has been there since the UK signed up to the ECHR in 1953. Here it is:

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Caesareans, Transparency, Torture and Prisoner Votes – the Human Rights Roundup

HRRWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular raging winter storm of human rights news and views.  The full list of links can be found here.  You can find previous roundups here.  Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd. 

The Government received an unwelcome early christmas present this week, with the Joint Parliamentary Committee reporting that a blanket ban on prisoner enfranchisement had no rational basis. Meanwhile, Britain’s potentially unlawful treatment of detainees with regard to rendition and torture are coming to light with the Gibson Inquiry, and a senior judge has announced that perhaps, after the ‘forced Caesarean’ escalation, there needs to be more transparency in the family courts and Court of Protection. 

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Senior judges speak out on EU and rights law

PrintFollowing David Hart’s highly popular review of  Alan Paterson’s book on the Supreme Court, here’s an account of the recent public speeches of Lord Sumption, Lord Justice Laws, and Lady Hale. I apologise in advance for the length of this post, but to do justice to all three lectures it has proved necessary to quote extensively from each. There are links to the full text of the lectures, if you want to digest them over Christmas. But whether or not that prospect appeals, here is a challenge for the festive season. Lord Sumption divides judges into three categories: the “parson”, the “pragmatic realist” and the”analyst”  (quoted by Professor Paterson in Final Judgment: The Last Law Lords and the Supreme Court). Which of these labels fit the respective speakers? Continue reading

Caesarean Escalation, Judges on Human Rights and Happy Birthday – the Human Rights Roundup

Birthday HRRWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular seasonal sack-load of human rights news and views.  The full list of links can be found here.  You can find previous roundups here.  Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd. 

This week, bloggers tried to get to the bottom of the ‘forced caesarian’ case, a Supreme Court judge weighed in on the relationship between the UK and European law, and on Tuesday it’s the 65th birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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“Imprecise” injunctions against Facebook unenforceable, says NI judge

Facebook-from-the-GuardianJ19 and Another v Facebook Ireland [2013] NIQB 113 – read judgment

The High Court in Northern Ireland has chosen to depart from the “robust” Strasbourg approach to service providers and their liability for comments hosted on their sites. Such liability, said the judge, was not consonant with the EC Directive on E-Commerce.

This was an application on behalf of the defendant to vary and discharge orders of injunction dated 27 September 2013 made in the case of both plaintiffs. One of the injunctions  restrained “the defendant from placing on its website photographs of the plaintiff, his name, address or any like personal details until further order.” These interim injunctions were awarded pursuant to writs issued by the plaintiffs for damages by reason of  the publication of photographs, information and comments on the Facebook webpages entitled “Irish Blessings”, “Ardoyne under Siege” and “Irish Banter” on 11 September 2013 and on subsequent dates. Continue reading

Equality, Christianity and Who Decides on Human Rights – the Human Rights Roundup

HRR B&BWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular winter wonderland of human rights news and views.  The full list of links can be found here.  You can find previous roundups here.  Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Celia Rooney. 

This week, equality issues dominate the headlines, while elsewhere judicial heavyweights throw their views into the ring on the institutional question of who should have the final say on issues involving human rights. 

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Inquiry Impasse, Charter Confusion and Competition Time – The Human Rights Roundup

Guantanamo-roundupUpdated | Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular swirling snow flurry of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can  find previous roundups herePost by Sarina Kidd, edited and links compiled by Adam Wagner.

This week, there are criticisms over the delay of inquiries both into the mistreatment of terrorism suspects and the Iraq War. Meanwhile, discussion continues over the relevance of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights for UK law, and a dying asylum seeker on hunger strike will not be released.

Request for help – religion and law

Courting Faith: Religion as an Extralegal Factor in Judicial Decision Making  Barristers sought to participate in PhD Research project exploring the relationship between religion and judicial decision making. If you are interested in taking part, please contact Amanda Springall-Rogers at A.Springall-Rogers@uea.ac.uk

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In South Africa, the not-so-quick and the dead.

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There’s a crisis in South Africa’s mortuaries – in the investigation of death.

 This is due to a number of problems – incompetent staff who fail to gather forensic evidence, creaking and inadequate facilities, and the sheer number of dead bodies waiting to be processed. In a gripping but bleak documentary about Salt River Mortuary, which is responsible for processing cadavers in the Western Cape, the figures will make you gasp and stretch your eyes:

For the Western Cape alone, 3,000 bodies are handled by this Mortuary each year. Of this number, 65% are unnatural deaths (accidents, suicides, homicides). Of that number (approx 2,000) a staggering 80% are homicides – in other words, Salt River is responsible for providing the forensic evidence for reconstructing the crime scenes leading to 1,600 murders a year.

Watch the ten minute film here. Continue reading

Miranda, Prisoner Votes & Judicial Review Myths – The Human Rights Roundup

TrollWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular unexpected sunny spell of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can  find previous roundups herePost by Sarina Kidd, edited and links compiled by Adam Wagner.

This week, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill took evidence , and there were notable comments from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the body which monitors compliance with the European Court of Human Rights. Meanwhile, Baroness Hale weighed in on the proposed judicial review changes and, continuing along the judicial review vein, David Miranda (pictured) began his claim on Wednesday.

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Watch that Charter

mapeuropeAB, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 3453 (Admin) – read judgment

Here unfolds a story of sophisticated abuse of the asylum system in this country by an individual skilfully shamming persecution. Nor did the security agents who escorted the claimant on his departure come up smelling of roses: it emerged during the course of these proceedings that they had falsified a room clearance certificate to boost the defence case.

The judgment also points up the potentially far-reaching effect of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and how this might render all the handwringing about the European Convention on Human Rights  irrelevant, and a home grown Bill of Rights otiose.

Factual background

The claimant, whom Mostyn J describes as “a highly intelligent, manipulative, unscrupulous and deceitful person”, arrived  in this country in 2005, was refused asylum and was deported in 2010. He sought judicial review of the Home Secretary’s decision to refuse his claim and return him to his state of embarkation, “Country A” (so designated because there was a reporting restriction order made in the original proceedings anonymising both the claimant, his country of origin, and the political organisation of which he claimed to be a member. Mostyn J “reluctantly” went along with that order in this proceedings, since neither of the parties applied to have it reviewed.)

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