Cameron hits Strasbourg – The Human Rights Roundup

29 January 2012 by

Updated | Welcome back to the human rights roundup, your regular human rights bullet. 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 Wessen Jazrawi

In the news

Mr Cameron goes to Strasbourg

This week, the European Court of Human Rights released its 2011 annual report and Prime Minister David Cameron paid Strasbourg a visit, where (amongst other things) he accused the Court of having become a “small claims court”.

Unsurprisingly, this has been heavily commented on in the press. Adam Wagner posted on the build-up, Professor Francesca Klug minced no words in the follow-up and Joshua Rozenberg  reported on the ensuing discussion between Cameron and the secretary-general of the Council of Europe – see also Deciding the future of human rights court … in Brighton. Also worth reading is The Small Places heartfelt and insightful defence of human rights, Obiter J’s excellent post and Beyond Abu Qatada: Why The UK Shouldn’t Split From the European Court of Human Rights in the Huffington Post (UK edition).

Reports from the European Court 

The figures released by the Court in its annual report tell us that the top five countries against which judgments are issued are: Turkey (174 judgments), Russia (133), Ukraine (105), Greece (73) and Romania (68). They also reveal that more than a third of the judgments in which the Court found a violation included a violation of Article 6, whether on account of the fairness or the length of the proceedings.

At a press conference announcing the release of the figures, the President of the Court, Nicholas Bratza, reminded member states that human rights were a “shared responsibility” and that any criticism of Court should rely on reasoned argument rather than “emotion and exaggeration”, a possible rebuke to Cameron as the Guardian noted. Also from Strasbourg, PACE adopted a report and resolution on the authority and effectiveness of the Court, which drew attention to, amongst other things, the greater role that national parliaments must play as well as to the budgetary predicament of the Court.

Admissibility of decisions before the European Court

An interesting debate is taking place on the UK Human Rights Blog as to whether the Strasbourg Court is obsessively interventionist, including a response from a Registry lawyer, and another post on whether the admissions system was transparent enough.

[Update] The Court has now posted this flashy YouTube video about admissibility:

Last week’s judgment on Abu Qatada

The Justice Gap has posted an excellent analysis of the Abu Qatada judgment, suggesting that the victory for British justice is not so great as is being claimed. This is because the Court did not go so far as to say that whole life tariffs would never violate Article 3 – on the contrary, it said that they may do so but that they did not reach the threshold in this instance.

Secret evidence

And finally, the Guardian has reported on Dinah Rose QC’s comments to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the government’s Justice and Security green paper, which recommends introducing so-called ‘closed material procedures’ into civil court cases to ensure that sensitive security information is not disclosed. She has warned that this legislation would violate the right to a fair trial and would undermine the idea that no one should be a judge in their own cause.

Inquiry into prison deaths

The Guardian reports on the demand by parents of a teenager who died in custody for a public inquiry into the number of deaths of vulnerable youngsters in the UK’s penal system.

In the courts

The Queen on the Application of Medical Justice v Secretary of State for the Home Department  [2011] EWCA Civ 1710. People who make unsuccessful claims to enter or remain in the United Kingdom cannot be removed without being given sufficient time for a lawyer to prepare a proper challenge to their claim.

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change v. Friends of the Earth and others [2012] EWCA Civ 28. The Court of Appeal held that the Minister had no power to make a modification to the rules on solar panels which would take away an existing entitlement to a fixed rate of return for capital investment incurred by a small-scale low-carbon generator.

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