The 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:
Welcome 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.
Following 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
Welcome 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.
J19 and Another v Facebook Ireland  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
Welcome 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.
Updated | 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 here. Post 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
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
Welcome 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 here. Post 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.
AB, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  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.
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.)
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular great bright firework display of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Post by Daniel Isenberg, edited and links compiled by Adam Wagner.
Some crucial judgments were handed down this week in the sphere of judicial review, with mixed results for the government. Elsewhere discussions continued about the future of human rights under a Tory government in 2015, as well as religious rights within the family courts. Keep an eye out for the upcoming Grand Chamber hearing on the full-face veil, as well as the open government consultation on the Balance of Competences Fundamental Rights Review.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular hurtling freight train of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Post by Sarina Kidd, edited and links compiled by Adam Wagner.
This week, immigration, in various forms was hotly discussed and some notable cases have been or are soon to be decided in the realm of disability rights. And not everyone is happy about the decision to televise Court of Appeal cases.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular chocolate fondu of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Post by Daniel Isenberg, edited and links compiled by Adam Wagner.
The issue of prisoner votes returned to the courtroom this week, with an unsurprising judgment on many fronts. Meanwhile Lord Neuberger made his views known on how access to justice forms a crucial component of the rule of law; and commentators discuss why public bodies can’t bring claims under the HRA.
David Mead, in an interesting post – here - about “publicness” in section 6 of the Human Rights Act, looks at a case in which the Olympic Delivery Agency got an injunction against protesters: Olympic Delivery Authority v Persons Unknown . The ODA was a public authority, and the protesters were advancing defences under Articles 10 (freedom of expression) and 11 (freedom of association). Arnold J dismissed the defences on the basis that these rights needed to be balanced against the ODA’s rights to property under A1P1.
As Mead points out, the judge was probably wrong to do so. On the face of it, the ODA had no rights under the Convention, under A1P1 or otherwise, because it was a public authority, and was likely to be acting as such in its protester-clearing role. One can perhaps save the judge’s blushes, by a slightly different route. The right of free speech under Article 10(1) has to be balanced against the protection of the rights of others under Article 10(2), and the latter would cover the ODA’s property rights which it was enforcing.
But the more fundamental question is why public authorities (think local authorities or NHS Trusts) cannot complain that they are HRA victims. After all, they can be unfairly dumped on by central government, can be lied about, can have their finances cut, their functions or their premises taken away (hospital unit closures), can receive an unfair trial, and ultimately lose their “life” in some governmental reorganisation.
Benkharbouche v Embassy of the Republic of Sudan (Jurisdictional Points: State Immunity)  UKEAT 0401_12_0410 4 October 2013 – read judgment
These appeals, heard at the same time, raise the question whether someone employed in the UK by a foreign diplomatic mission as a member of its domestic staff may bring a claim to assert employment rights against the country whose mission it is, despite being met by an assertion of State Immunity under the State Immunity Act 1978. The EAT regarded itself bound by the supremacy of EU law to disapply the SIA, despite the fact that it had no jurisdiction to do so under the 1998 Human Rights Act.
This is the first time that the full force of the rights contained in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms has made itself felt in a domestic dispute between private parties (although the embassies themselves are state institutions, as an employment dispute the matter is one of private law only). If upheld on appeal, this ruling will have consequences that extend far beyond the somewhat esoteric area of the immunity of diplomatic missions, and will make the effect of the Human Rights Act look puny by comparison (as pointed out by Joshua Rozenberg in his post on this case). Continue reading