Rights in flux – The Human Rights Roundup
22 March 2011
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 Graeme Hall
In the news
As the UK government is requesting the referral of Greens and M.T. v UK to the Grand Chamber, with the intention that the European Court of Human Rights reconsiders the issue of prisoner voting, the Committee of Ministers, vested with the responsibility to oversee the enforcement of the Court’s judgments, has put on hold its ongoing review of the UK’s compliance with the decision in Hirst v UK (No. 2). This comes at a time when a senior human rights academic, as well as other states (according to the PoliticsHome blog), are also questioning the Court’s legitimacy. The background to these controversial decisions can be found in Adam Wagner’s post.
Linked to the issue of the European Convention, both The Times (click here) and the Guardian (click here) report that the recently announced Commission to examine a British Bill of Rights will end in a stalemate due to its composition of human rights supporters and sceptics. A short Who’s-Who? of the Commission’s members can be found here.
Unsurprisingly, the media have also been very interested in the Defamation Bill. Whilst David Allen Green, a media defence lawyer writing in the New Statesman argues that the bill is a great step forward, Inforrm, the international forum for responsible media blog, concludes that the bill is neither radical nor wide-ranging. Click here for Rosalind English’s detailed discussion of the bill.
Finally, Pink Tape, a blog written by a family barrister, calls into question the breadth of a recently launched, yet under publicised, Department for Communities and Local Government consultation paper, which aims to review the statutory obligations placed on local authorities.
In the courts:
Mohamud, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 573 (Admin) (15 March 2011): Asylum seekers entitled to work under Reception Directive whilst waiting for judicial review decision.
EM and others (Returnees) Zimbabwe CG  UKUT 98 (IAC) (14 March 2011): Immigration: Upper Tribunal gives updated country guidance on Zimbabwe.
A-S v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 564 (Admin) (17 January 2011): Bizarre “catch-22” case of Kuwaiti Bedoon asylum seeker who cannot stay in UK as he has no valid ID, but cannot return to Kuwait as they don’t recognise their Bedoons as citizens.
The Mayor of London (Greater London Authority) v Haw & Ors  EWHC 585 (QB) (17 March 2011): Anti-war protester Brian Haw loses High Court appeal against eviction from Parliament Square. See our latest post on protest rights.
Grand Chamber Judgment in Lautsi: No Violation: The appeal chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, overturning a 2009 Chamber judgment, has ruled that the practice of displaying crucifixes in Italian State schools does not violate the applicants’ rights to education or freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
…and don’t forget to take a look at our recent posts:
- What was the point of the European Convention on Human Rights? – Dr Ed Bates March 21, 2011 1 Crown Office Row
- No more squatting? March 21, 2011 Adam Wagner
- MP reveals “hyper” injunctions in name of open justice March 20, 2011 Adam Wagner
- Who are the Bill of Rights Commission “human rights experts”? March 18, 2011 Adam Wagner
- A manifesto for 21st century open justice March 17, 2011 Adam Wagner
- Transsexual denied NHS breast surgery loses appeal March 17, 2011 Matthew Flinn
- Blow to benefit tourists from Supreme Court March 16, 2011 Adam Wagner
- Libel tourists beware – reform is on its way March 16, 2011 Rosalind English
- All bets are off for prisoner votes March 16, 2011 Adam Wagner
- Attorney General blames blogosphere for frenzied media March 16, 2011 Adam Wagner
I have difficulty with the Committee of Ministers putting on hold its responsibility to supervise execution of the Court judgment in Hirst v UK (No2), on the ground that the UK is seeking to appeal Greens and MT v UK.
Both the UK and the Committee of Ministers have failed to act responsibily, in relation to my case.
It used to be the case that the Committee of Ministers was a toothless watchdog, however, since the Lisbon Treaty and ratification and coming into power of Protocol 14, in addition to the Interlaken process, it beggars belief that after over 5 years of delay there should be even more delay!
In my view, the Court decision should have direct effect or direct application in the same way that the Court of Justice of the European Union operates. By handing the case back to politicians has only facilitated this game of political ping pong. In effect, what was a legal case has now become a political case.
The “senior human rights academic” Tom Zwart opines that “The reasoning applied by the Court is not very convincing”. However, I am not convinced by a one line criticism which the author fails to back up with evidence. Similarly, he only offers a one line solution “To prevent the Court from losing its legitimacy, reforms are necessary”. If I was marking his paper he would get 1/10 and the comment “could do a lot better”! PoliticsHome blog has merely regurgitated the mumblings from Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky before the JCHR.
Perhaps, these so-called experts could turn their attention to the illegitimacy of the UK’s failure to fufill its obligations under the Convention rather than attack the Court?
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