A stormy week for European human rights – The Roundup

21 February 2011 by

It’s time for the human rights roundup, a regular bulletin of all the law we haven’t quite managed to feature in full blog posts. The full list of links, updated each day, can be found here.

by Melinda Padron

A hot topic this week was the proposed reforms to public protection contained in the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which is interestingly open to public comments via the internet. The Bill is composed of seven parts: regulation of biometric data; regulation of surveillance; protection of property from disproportionate enforcement action; counter-terrorism powers; safeguarding vulnerable groups/criminal records; freedom of information and data protection; and miscellaneous. See our recent posts on the Bill, including Dr Cian Murphy’s opinion as to its constitutional relevance.

Have lawyers really “cleared” the government to defy Strasbourg over prisoners’ votes? – Carl Gardner, Head of Legal

An eight-page memo prepared for Nick Clegg seems to “clear” the government to defy the ECtHR over prisoners’ votes (see Rosalind English’s most recent post). Although part of the document reveals the widely known fact that a decision by the UK not to comply with the court would be subject to political rather than legal consequences, the memo reveals three interesting points.

Prisoners’ Compensation – the real story » law think

In the recent case of Tovey, two prisoners who brought a claim on the basis of having been denied their vote in the 2010 elections, were not entitled to damages. In light of the prisoners’ votes controversy, was this another blow to the ECHR/HRA? Yaaser Vanderman explains the judgment. See also our recent post on the Tovey judgment here.

European court needs British president if it wants credibility in the UK – Joshua Rozenberg, Guardian.co.uk

Jean-Paul Costa, president of the ECtHR, argued it would be a disaster for the UK if it decided not to comply with the court’s ruling on prisoners’ votes. The Economist’s Bagehot argued in a recent article that this would amount to a failure by the UK to lead the Council of Europe by example (in particular, those members with an unsatisfactory standard of compliance with the Convention). However, the current government seems to be more concerned with the public’s lack of confidence with the institution. But is tailoring the ECtHR to UK demands really an answer to the popular lack of confidence? See our recent post on this discussion.

The government is disappointed and appalled by this ruling …. ObiterJ

The Supreme Court’s decision that a review mechanism should be put in place for those whose names are indefinitely on the Sex Offenders List has not only generated further criticism of the ECHR, but prompted strong (and unfortunate) condemnations by the coalition government of our own judiciary. See some of our recent posts, both on the decision and on the coalition government’s reaction to the ruling.

David Cameron: UK human rights law review ‘imminent’ – BBC News

A commission to investigate a British Bill of Rights will be set up “imminently”, David Cameron has said. See Adam Wagner’s post.

Test case over sterilisation puts court of protection under public scrutiny – Afua Hirsch, The Guardian

The current case is brought by two public bodies to clarify whether a woman with a learning disability can be forcibly sterilised.

Ministry of Justice Civil Litigation Funding Consultation – Some Responses – Inforrm

The Ministry of Justice Consultation on Civil Litigation Funding closed last Monday 14/02. Thousands are reported to have responded to the consultation, and some are summarised in Maria Roche’s recent post. One of the main points of discussion and subject of numerous consultation responses was the impact of the Jackson Report to access to justice in defamation cases. Some of these responses were made public and their highlights were summarised in this post.

ECHR BLOG: Election of ECtHR Judges Information Sheet

It may come as a surprise to some that the judges of the ECtHR are appointed via an election process. Find out how by reading this information sheet prepared by the Council of Europe. See Adam Wagner’s post on some media misrepresentations on the topic.

In the courts

SA (Iranian Arabs-no general risk) Iran CG [2011] UKUT 41 (IAC) (10 February 2011)

Upper Tribunal: Being Iranian Arab does not itself generate risk of persecution upon return to Iran. See Alasdair Henderson’s post.

BA (Demonstrators in Britain – risk on return) Iran CG [2011] UKUT 36 (IAC) (10 February 2011)

Iranian who demonstrated against regime in UK is at real risk of being persecuted as a result upon return. Tribunal gives general guidance on such cases. See Alasdair Henderson’s post.

Luton Borough Council & Nottingham City Council & Ors, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Education [2011] EWHC 217 (Admin) (11 February 2011)

Coalition cancellation of school-building program was unlawful. Lack of consultation, failed to regard equalities impact. Sec of state must now reconsider “with an open mind”. See Adam Wagner’s post.

British Pregnancy Advisory Service v Secretary of State for Health [2011] EWHC 235 (Admin) (14 February 2011)

High court: “treatment for termination of pregnancy” includes taking of abortion pills so they must be taken in hospital. Treatment includes “use”, not just “prescription” of medicines. See Rosalind English’s post.

Sharon HORIE v the United Kingdom – 31845/10 [2011] ECHR 289 (1 February 2011)

Euro Court of Human Rights: Eviction of New Age Traveller from unauthorised campsite not breach of aritcle 8 right to family life. Comment but not conclusion on whether NATs have equivalent rights to ethnic gypsies.

Abdul & Ors v Director of Public Prosecutions [2011] EWHC 247 (Admin) (16 February 2011)

Criminal charges against men who shouted “murderers”, “baby killers” etc. at Army homecoming parade not breach of free expression rights. See Isabel McArdle’s post from today.

Bourgass & Anor, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Justice [2011] EWHC 286 (Admin) (18 February 2011)

Decision to segregate two prisoners convicted of terrorism and murder of policeman was procedurally fair and article 6 compliant. Our post to come.

Tovey & Ors v Ministry of Justice [2011] EWHC 271 (QB) (18 February 2011)

100s of claims by serving prisoners for damages arising from failure to give them vote struck out by High Court. See Rosalind English’s post.

And don’t forget our recent posts…

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