Hamza (almost) out, secret justice and government snooping – The Human Rights Roundup
10 April 2012
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your weekly helping of human rights news. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.
In the news
The big news of today is that Abu Hamza, Babar Ahmad and 3 others are highly likely to be extradited to the USA to face terrorism charges, following a ruling in the European Court of Human Rights – see Isabel McArdle’s post on the ruling. This aside, the main topics in the news this week have been the response by the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights (the Joint Committee on Human Rights or the “JCHR”) to the Government’s Justice and Security Green Paper and the leaks that the Government plans to introduce “real time” monitoring of how we use the internet in the interests of national security.
by Wessen Jazrawi
Response by the Joint Committee on Human Rights to secret justice proposals
The JCHR has finally waded into the debate concerning the Justice and Security Green Paper, which has been the subject of several previous UKHRB posts (see here, here, here and here). It has come out in support of the stance taken by the Special Advocates, noting that the “closed material procedures are inherently unfair” and has made some proposals of its own on how the Government’s problems should be dealt with.
For more information on this, Rosalind English has published an post on the UKHRB, which has provoked some interesting discussion, including comments by Angus McCullough QC and David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. There are posts on this issue by the Guardian and by the Daily Mail, which notes in particular that Clegg is now insisting that the security services “cannot be allowed to ride roughshod over the principle of open justice”.
A “snooper’s charter”
Information on proposals – described by the Sun as a “snooper’s charter” – has been leaked. If implemented, the proposals would give the UK intelligence body, GCHQ, real-time access to information held by internet service providers (ISPs) and other internet firms, such as information on who individuals are contacting, how frequently and for how long.
The Prime Minister and the Home Office have indicated that advancing technology is to blame for gaps in the existing law on surveillance, which they argue make the detection and prevention of crime more difficult. These proposals have been downgraded from a bill to a draft bill which, as JUSTICE’s Human Rights Policy Director Angela Patrick notes on the UKHRB, will provide an opportunity for a rational conversation about the regulation of surveillance and modernisation, to re-examine whether existing powers are fair, proportionate and accompanied by adequate safeguards. Here’s hoping that that the public will grasp that opportunity with both hands. There are also excellent posts by Out-Law here and by Panopticon Blog here.
The deportation to the USA of Abu Hamza, Babar Ahmed and 3 other terrorist suspects has been approved by the European Court of Human Rights. See our post, the judgment and the Court’s excellent press release.
In more deportation news, Rosalind English on the UKHRB examines the decision by the Court of Appeal in R (on the application of Amada Bizimana) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 414 that the appellant’s continued detention, beyond the point when it became clear that his deportation would not occur within a reasonable time, was unlawful. As well as considering the merits of the decision, the post considers deportation rules more widely and also draws attention to the European Agency for the Management of External Borders – Frontex, which describes its operation as a necessary counterweight to the freedom opened up in most of Europe by Schengen.
Appeasement by the European Court of Human Rights?
An excellent post by Helen Fenwick on the UK Constitutional Law Group blog on whether two recent decisions by the Strasbourg court, Austin v UK and Von Hannover v Germany (No 2), represent a move towards the appeasement of certain signatory states. It compares each with a previous counter-part decision against the same member state which adopts a more activist approach, and suggests that these cases may be indicative of a very recent reversal of certain trends in the reasoning of the Court, and may be intended to deflect the criticism that the Court has been too interventionist.
Newsnight interview of Babar Ahmad
I can second Adam Wagner’s recommendation of Dominic Casciani’s BBC Newsnight interview of Babar Ahmad, which can be found on the BBC iplayer here. As noted by Adam, Ahmad’s case cuts across a number of different rights controversies, including freedom of expression, detention without charge or trial for nearly 8 years, assault by police officers (for which he was paid £60,000 in compensation) and, finally, extradition to the US. In addition to noting that the interview cost the taxpayer £100,000, the Daily Mail also reported on the legal challenge brought by the BBC to obtain the interview and the concerns raised by ministers.
Family justice narratives
Further to earlier posts on this, the Pink Tape blog has published its first narrative from a family law solicitor. It’s a comprehensive, honest and rather sobering account of the various issues being faced by those in the family justice field.
Happy 2nd Birthday UKHRB!
With a lengthy subscriber list of over 10,000, the UKHRB turned the grand old age of two this week. Adam Wagner has posted on this here.
In the courts
R (on the application of Amada Bizimana) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 414. The Court of Appeal found that, once it became clear that the appellant’s deportation would not occur within a reasonable time, his continued detention beyond that point was unlawful.
DL v A Local Authority & Others  EWCA Civ 253. The Court of Appeal held that the “great safety net” of the High Court’s jurisdiction still exists to guard adults with capacity under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 from the effect on their decision-making of undue influence, coercion and duress.
Department of Health v IC, John Healey MP and Nicholas Cecil (EA/2011/0286 & 287). The Tribunal allowed the appeal and ordered that the appellant was required to disclose the Transitional Risk Register relating to the Government’s proposals for NHS reforms.
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- Is the UK shackled by its deportation rules? April 7, 2012 Rosalind English
- BBC interview with terror suspect Barbar Ahmad April 6, 2012 Adam Wagner
- The dangers of data snooping – Angela Patrick April 6, 2012 1 Crown Office Row
- Vulnerable adults still protected by High Court’s “great safety net” April 6, 2012 Richard Mumford
- Happy 2nd birthday… and thanks a million April 5, 2012 Adam Wagner
- Secret justice: do we have a compromise? April 4, 2012 Rosalind English
- Kettling: Can a public interest motive justify a deprivation of liberty or not? – Robert Wastell April 2, 2012 1 Crown Office Row