Assange, secret trials and data retention – The Human Rights Roundup
4 June 2012
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your weekly buffet 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.
The big news this week has been the unexpected turn of events in the Assange extradition case. Almost immediately after the Supreme Court handed down its judgment that he could be extradited, his counsel Dinah Rose QC threw a spanner in the works… The upshot is that it looks like Assange shall be sticking around for at least another couple of weeks. The other significant news of the week is that the Government has published the Justice and Security Bill.
by Wessen Jazrawi
In the news
The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, by a majority of five to two, that a Swedish prosecutor could be considered a judicial authority for the purposes of the Extradition Act 2003 and therefore could issue a European Arrest Warrant. But just when everyone thought that the fat lady had sung for Julian Assange, his counsel Dinah Rose QC pointed out to the Supreme Court that counsel had not been given an opportunity to address a determinative point in the judgment – the fact that the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties permits recourse, as an aid to interpretation, to “any subsequent practice in the application of the treaty which establishes the agreement of the parties regarding its interpretation”.
Assange has now been granted a stay of the Supreme Court’s order of 14 days in order to consider an application to reopen proceedings before the Supreme Court. Joshua Rozenberg has written an excellent article in the Guardian setting out the course of events. Interestingly, Assange and his representatives were only given an hour, rather than the usual 7 days, to consider the judgment before it was announced. For more detail on the reasoning in the judgment as well as on the re-opening of proceedings, see Carl Gardner’s post on Head of Legal. He has published two other posts: one focuses on the question of whether Assange could apply to set aside the Supreme Court judgment while the other was published before the judgment came out and deals with the question of what happens when the (extradition) game is finally up for Assange. David Hart QC also discusses the judgment on the UKHRB here.
The Justice and Security Bill
The Justice and Security Bill was published this week – for a handy guide to all the key resources, see Adam Wagner’s post on the UKHRB. Also on the UKHRB, Angela Patrick, Director of Human Rights Policy at JUSTICE, critiques the amended bill here. She considers that despite some undoubtedly significant changes, the Bill remains fundamentally unfair, unnecessary and unjustified.
Obiter J has published a two-part post on the Justice and Security Bill. Part 1 deals with Part 1 of the Bill, which is oversight, while Part 2 deals with Restrictions on Disclosure of Sensitive Material. A must read for those who want to understand the nitty gritty of the Bill.
Government response to the JCHR report and Consultation on the Justice and Security Green Paper
The Government has issued its response to the JCHR’s report on the Justice and Security Green Paper – the full document can be found here. Much of what is said will be familiar but worth a read for those who want to know exactly how the Government is rebutting the many criticisms of the Bill. Also see the Government’s response to the Green Paper Consultation here and its memorandum on human rights issues arising from the Bill. You can follow the Bill’s progress through Parliament here.
Twitter bombing comment divides judges
David Allen Green reports in the New Statesman on the fact that the two-judge Divisional Court of the High Court has been unable to come to an agreed decision on the “Twitter Joke Trial” appeal and so has ordered a new hearing before three judges. The hearing is to be held on 27 June 2012 and will be heard by, amongst others, the Lord Chief Justice.
Data retention not a breach of Article 8
Rosalind English has posted on the recent judgment in Catt v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWHC 1471 (Admin) (30 May 2012). The Court held that retention of data on a national database of material relating to a protester’s attendance at demonstrations by a group that had a history of violence, criminality and disorder, did not engage Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention. Panopticon has also blogged on this here. Both noted that the Court had said that even if Article 8 had been found to be engaged, any interference with Mr. Catt’s rights would have been amply justified under Art. 8.2.
ICLR’s case summaries now on Guardian Law
The Guardian reports that case summaries published by ICLR – who focus on judgments that change the law rather than those that are media-friendly – will now be available on Guardian Law.
In the courts
Assange v The Swedish Prosecution Authority  UKSC 22 (30 May 2012). Supreme Court rules by 5-2 majority that Julian Assange must be extradited to Sweden. Definition of “judicial authority” is a wide one and includes prosecutor. This decision will now be re-opened following Dinah Rose QC’s application to Supreme Court.
Catt v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWHC 1471 (Admin) (30 May 2012). Retention of police data on activity at political protests on National Domestic Extremism Database “amply justified”.
KM, R (on the application of) v Cambridgeshire County Council 2012] UKSC 23 (31 May 2012). Local authority’s resource allocation decision in respect of profoundly disabled man was lawful, despite a number of ommisions in the LA’s reasoning. Supreme Court sees no need to reexamine decision in HoL decision of Barry as LA’s resources not considered as part of its decision.
R(on the application of Yunus Bakhsh) v Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC 1445 (Admin). Permission for judicial review proceedings granted – claimant could challenge the decision by his employer, a public NHS trust, not re-engage him after it had been ordered to do so by an Employment Tribunal in 2010. Rosalind English considers the judgment on the UKHRB here.
Siwak, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Newham  EWHC 1520 (Admin) (01 June 2012). Cuts challenge fails: removal of advice services in Newham was lawful, rules High Court.
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- Should atheists be explicitly protected in human rights instruments? May 31, 2012 Rosalind English
- Retention of data on octogenarian protester “amply justified” May 31, 2012 Rosalind English
- Abu Qatada detention will continue through Olympics May 31, 2012 Rosalind English
- Assange: does it matter if ministers mislead Parliament? May 30, 2012 David Hart QC
- NHS Trust rapped on knuckles for refusing to reinstate union activist May 30, 2012 Rosalind English
- The Erika: Cour de Cassation has its thinking cap on May 29, 2012 David Hart QC
- Justice and Security Bill: The Government is not for turning – Angela Patrick May 29, 2012
- We need to think about Kevin May 29, 2012 Rosalind English
- Key Justice and Security Bill resources May 29, 2012 by Adam Wagner
- Free Speech at Work: A 1COR Seminar and Mock Trial – Wed 27th June
- Time and time again: Article 6 to the rescue May 28, 2012 by David Hart QC