Monthly News Archives: August 2010


Human rights news and case-law roundup

5 August 2010 by

We recently started adding links to interesting new articles and case-law on the right the sidebar under the heading “Selected news sources”.

As of last week, these articles now appear on our Twitter feed (@ukhumanrightsb) too. Below is a quick rundown of the most recent links. The full list of links can be found here.

  • 4 Aug | European Court Rules on Prohibited Weapons in Armed Conflict, Retroactivity: This is a case about the supply of mustard gas to Saddam Hussein, in the European Court of Human Rights. A man prosecuted for supplying thiodiglycol (mustard gas). 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]

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DNA, home testing and fuzzy human rights

4 August 2010 by

DNA database impact on human rightsThe Human Genetics Commission have today published new guidance for direct-to-consumer genetic tests, including a recommendation that children should not be genetically tested by their parents unless the test is clinically indicated. The guidelines highlight that the ethical issues surrounding home-testing are still fuzzy and provide an interesting challenge from a perspective of human rights.

Home DNA testing kits are a fast-growing trend. They have already been on sale direct to consumers for three years by companies such as 23andMe and deCODEme, which advertise home-testing as a means of “taking charge of your health” and “filling in your family tree”. DNA paternity testing has been available for years, but it is the health aspects of home testing which have huge and potentially troubling implications in respect of basic rights.

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No right to gist of case before Special Immigration Appeals Commission

4 August 2010 by

W(Algeria) and 7 Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] EWCA Civ 898 (Jacob LJ, Sullivan LJ and Sir David Keene) 29 July 2010 – read judgment

Article 6 of the Convention did not require an “irreducible minimum of information” that had to be provided to appellants in proceedings before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission about the risk they posed to national security.

In their appeal against decisions of the respondent secretary of state to deport them on grounds of national security (upheld by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC)) the appellants all claimed that they would be at risk of ill-treatment if they were deported. They had obtained relevant information which had been provided on the understanding that it could only be made available if there were clear guarantees that it would not become known to their national government.

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Increasingly muscular Supreme Court good for human rights

3 August 2010 by

Happy birthday!

The UK’s new Supreme Court has reached the end of its first term, leading to some interesting discussions about its future from both practical and philosophical perspectives. From a human rights angle, a well-tooled and robust Supreme Court which acts to keep the government in check is good for everyone.

On a practical level, the UK Supreme Court Blog has posted on the stark warning from the UKSC’s chief executive, Jenny Rowe, to the effect that the Government’s proposed budget cuts could cripple the new court after only a year in operation. The UKSC Blog reports that Jenny Rowe, the court’s Chief Executive, has said she is not sure where the axe will fall but that “since casework (i.e. the hearing and determination of appeals) was the Court’s “priority“, it would be the Court’s public education and outreach programmes that would be most vulnerable.

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Spying on school parents was unlawful and breach of human rights

3 August 2010 by

Worth lying for?

(1) MS JENNY PATON (2) C2 (3) C3 (4) C4 (5) C5 and POOLE BOROUGH COUNCIL, Investigatory Powers Tribunal – Read ruling

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) has ruled that a local council acted unlawfully in spying repeatedly on parents suspected of lying about where they lived in order to get their child into a sought after school. The ruling may not, however, prevent local authorities from spying on families for similar reasons in the future.

The IPT exists to investigate complaints about conduct by various public bodies, including in relation to surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). Section 28 of RIPA allows a public body to apply to conduct direct surveillance if the authorisation is necessary on various grounds, including the detection of crime.

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End of the age of terrorism for human rights campaigners [updated]

2 August 2010 by

Updated (4 Aug 2010)

Army generals are notorious for fighting the last war instead of the current one. Human rights campaigners may be in danger of the same mistake if they get their strategy wrong for the new coalition government.

The great civil liberties fight of the last decade centered on New Labour’s anti-terrorism measures. Keystone issues such as stop and search, 42-day detention without charge and control orders caught the public imagination and have been the subject of bitterly fought and largely successful campaigns by rights groups.

The other significant fights have been over the so-called surveillance state; for example CCTV, the DNA database and ASBOs, all of which are now being considered for reform by the new government.

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New legislation website launched, updated to 2002

2 August 2010 by

The government has launched a sparkly looking but as yet scantily featured new legislation website, legislation.gov.uk, to replace the two websites which previously did the same job, OPSI and the Statute Law Database.

One notable absence from the National Archives-run site is any guarantee that the statutes will be up to date after 2002. This was also a limitation of its predecessors, which is why lawyers generally avoided them for fear of unknowingly using an out-of-date statute. “About half” of the legislation is now up to date, according to the frequently asked questions section. This is surprising given the amount of money which is spent on Government IT; the new website asking what laws people want scrapped will apparently alone cost £20,000.

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UKIP Supreme Court judgment analysis

2 August 2010 by

For those of you looking for more information on last week’s Supreme Court judgment on UKIP party funding (see our previous post), we have been sent an interesting analysis of the judgment from Lucy Colter at Four New Square Chambers.

Patrick Lawrence Q.C. and Can Yeginsu, also of Four New Square, appeared for UKIP. The judgment was only of tangential importance in respect of human rights, but Coulter addresses this towards the end of her article. The main point was that a court in future would have leeway as to how much it could order a party to forfeit. As such, the court was satisfied that the party funding legislation is sufficiently flexible so as not to contravene human rights law:

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