Human rights news and case-law roundup (23 July 2010)
23 July 2010
We recently started adding links to interesting new articles and case-law the sidebar under the heading “Selected news sources”. Below is a quick rundown of the most recent links. The full list of links can be found here.
- 23 July | Government delays Bribery Act – again: Siobhain Butterworth writes in the Guardian “This week the Ministry of Justice proudly announced that the long-awaited Bribery Act will become law in 2011. “The act will ensure the UK is at the forefront of the battle against bribery,” it said on Tuesday. The legislation follows a long-term Guardian investigation into allegations of corruption against BAE (vigorously denied), and some costly plea bargaining with the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic on the part of the arms company…. Hang on a minute. Wasn’t the act supposed to come into force in 2010? It received royal assent in April, nearly 18 months after the law commission’s “final report” on bribery recommended the introduction of the new corporate offences. Why the delay?”
- 22 July | Ian Tomlinson death: lawyers challenge CPS over decision not to prosecute: Ian Tomlinson was caught up in the G20 protests in April 2009. A short while after being hit by a policeman with a baton, he collapsed and died. The CPS have decided not to prosecute the policeman involved, as they consider there is an irreconcilable difference of opinion between medical experts as to the cause of death, which would mean it would be highly unlikely that the officer would be convicted beyond reasonable doubt. Expect plenty of debate and acrimony over this issue, as the family accuse the police of a cover-up.
James Dean in the Law Society Gazette: “All this leaves one with the feeling that companies, including law firms, need to go well beyond any existing legal obligations to truly respect human rights: corporate and securities laws do not recognise such rights, and corporate social responsibility programmes don’t go far enough. Ruggie will submit his ‘guiding principles’ to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011, which will decide whether any legal or policy changes should be recommended to member nations. It seems likely he will suggest that more needs to be done.”
Joshua Rozenberg: “We can gloss over the rhetoric about ‘taking power away from Whitehall and putting it into the hands of people and communities’, about scrapping top-down micromanagement and ensuring that professionals answer to the public. All you need to know about these plans is that they replace targets with timetables… Contrast that reasonably tight timetable [for a legal aid review] with the establishment of a ‘commission to investigate the creation of a UK Bill of Rights’. This will be set up some time before the end of 2011 and is the only proposal in the ministry’s list without a specified end date, making it a very low priority for the government.”
22 July | Counter-Terrorism Powers, the Invasion of Iraq and the Threat of Terrorism to the United Kingdom
Collin Murray: “It is incumbent upon a new government to herald their change in approach by comparison to their predecessors. Moreover, just as New Labour adopted the mantra of “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” to attract voters from the Conservatives in the 1990s, Teresa May’s overtures can be seen as poaching voters long swayed by the Labour Party’s traditional concern civil liberties. Regardless of these motivations, for the moment at least, the political weather-vein points to a more mature reflection in the importance of broader implications of restricting human rights on the basis of short-term counter-terrorism policy and of the domestic implications of how the United Kingdom positions itself on the world stage.
From Inforrm: “The Times’ and Sunday Times’ long serving legal manager, Alastair Brett, has left the newspapers after more than 30 years. He has been a fixture on the legal media scene for as long as most practititioners can remember. We take this opportunity to recall some of the highlights of his long career at Times Newspapers Limited and his tireless contribution to the cause of press freedom.”
21 July | Frans Cornelis Adrianus VAN ANRAAT v the Netherlands (European Court of Human Rights)
A man was prosecuted for supplying thiodiglycol (mustard gas) to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He complained under Article 6 of the Convention that the Dutch Supreme Court had failed to answer his argument that since Saddam Hussein and Ali Hassan al-Majid al-Tikriti were beyond the jurisdiction of the Netherlands courts, he ought not to have been convicted as their accessory. He also complained under Article 6 or Article 7 of the Convention that section 8 of the War Crimes Act did not meet the standard of lex certa (certain law). Both arguments were rejected and the application declared inadmissible [see paras 68ff and 96]
France are seeking to ban the burka (Islamic woman’s headdress) “My point is not that One Law For All has overlooked the seeds of a perfectly emancipatory Muslim family law, or that a little more regulation will solve all our problems. Rather I argue that there is unadmitted nuance to the question of Muslim divorce practice in Europe and that this nuance indicates the possibility of resistance and of the creation of new norms even against the massed resources of religious and state patriarchy.
From Inforrm: “A group representing in-house lawyers with national news organisations and broadcasters has been given permission to intervene in two privacy cases to be dealt with by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. The cases – which include a fresh one brought by Princess Caroline of Monaco – moved to the Grand Chamber after the Fifth Chamber relinquished jurisdiction on them.”