It’s (nearly) all about the riots – The Human Rights Roundup
15 August 2011
Welcome back to 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 can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.
by Graeme Hall
In the news
Theft, assault, arson and death: the result of riots not seen in the UK in recent memory. Despite the shocking scenes, communities have united and even the courts have worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week to process those charged. Unsurprisingly, the blawgosphere has been prolific in its coverage, and Adam Wagner provides a summary of useful articles here.
Whilst calm appears to have returned to our streets, further outcry was brought to the nation’s living-rooms when the historian David Starkey provocatively pronounced on Newsnight that “the whites have become black”. However, deploring the lawlessness and imploring calm, David Allen Green takes a more considered approach, noting in the New Statesman that “the participants in the disorder came from a range of social and employment backgrounds.”
Although true, the Pink Tape blog recognises that the majority of those involved are from “poor and underprivileged backgrounds” and that evicting those involved and their families misses the “bigger picture”. The Nearly Legal blog outlines the law regulating eviction, highlighting that human rights considerations will be brought into play in any eviction proceedings. However, as Matthew Flinn argued on our blog, ‘human rights’ most probably won’t prevent the authorities from identifying those involved.
Losing benefit entitlements, the other punishment which has gained traction with the public, is assessed by barrister Elizabeth Prochaska in the Guardian. Acknowledging that such action “would represent a radical departure from the universalist assumptions underpinning the welfare state”, Prochaska concludes that “[i]n its quest to satisfy public bloodlust [the government] is indulging in the irresponsibility it seeks to condemn.”
Given that the courts are already able to impose fines on those responsible, it would seem that powers do exist to reduce rioters’ benefits. Inevitably, Felicity Gerry’s prediction in Halsbury’s Law Exchange of another ‘riot’ among the court of public (and political) opinion will prove correct when the courts mete out sentences.
Matthew Burton, writing in the Guardian, takes a look at the Commission on a Bill of Rights’ discussion paper, highlighting not only where it has fallen short, but also its “glaring errors”. See also Adam Wagner’s post: Do we need a UK Bill of Rights?
Judith Townsend, also writing in the Guardian, reminds us of the bygone era of superinjunctions; arguing that the courts and ministry of justice must make more information available to journalists and the public to bring clarity to the debate.
Other legal news roundups:
The UKSC blog provides an overview of the riots, paying particular attention to responses from politicians; The Week that Was – The Mask of Anarchy. Obiter J’s Law and Lawyers blog also gives Some thoughts on desperate August week. The United Kingdom Immigration Law Blog offers a roundup of legal immigration news: Points-based system, switching, etcetera.
In the courts:
WILLIAM WALTON+JOHN WEIR FRASER+MRS MAGGIE FRASER AGAINST A DECISION MADE BY THE SCOTTISH MINISTERS DATED 21 DECEMBER 2009 FROM THE DIRECTOR OF TRANSPORT v. , 11 August 2011, Lord Tyre: Road building a rerouting decisions in Scotland did not breach human rights of local residents.
PR (Sri Lanka) & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Rev 2)  EWCA Civ 988 (11 August 2011): Court of Appeal considers application of “some other compelling reason” test for 3rd bite of cherry immigration appeals
Connelly, Re Judicial Review  NIQB 62 (5 August 2011): Northern Ireland High Court rejects UK court’s decision in Hookway (96 hour detention on bail case), says court “failed to recognise the context within which the words are used”.
City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court The Government of South Africa v Shrien Dewani: Magistrate orders Shrien Dewani’s extradition to South Africa to face charges that he murdered his new bride. See Rosalind English’s post.
SL v Westminster City Council & Ors  EWCA Civ 954 (10 August 2011): Iranian failed asylum seeker with indefinite leave to remain was entitled to residential accommodation. Court of Appeal overrules High Court – see Nearly Legal’s coverage
Case-law commentaries from across the blogosphere:
…and don’t forget to take a look at our recent posts:
- Full internet ban for sex offenders ruled unlawful August 12, 2011 Maria Roche
- #WithoutPrejudice: Riots, Human Rights Act and hacking August 12, 2011 Adam Wagner
- Judge gives green light to extradition of honeymoon murder suspect August 12, 2011 Rosalind English
- Will publishing photos of alleged rioters infringe their human rights? August 11, 2011 Matthew Flinn
- ROCing the law: a successful human rights damages claim August 10, 2011 David Hart QC
- The English riots August 10, 2011 Adam Wagner
- Bumper summer edition! – The Human Rights Roundup August 9, 2011 Melina Padron
- Will the Detainee Inquiry be human rights compliant? August 8, 2011 Matthew Flinn