Article 8 tweaked, human rights exam passed – the Human Rights Roundup
11 June 2012
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your weekly dose 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.
Thanks to the Jubilee, it was a short week for most of us but there was still plenty happening in the world of human rights. Hot topics included the criminalisation of forced marriage and the UK’s second UPR, and as usual the debate surrounding the Justice and Security Bill rages on. And, today the Home Secretary will unveil her plans to persuade judges to alter how they interpret Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
by Wessen Jazrawi
Article 8 and a half
Today, the Home Secretary will announce to Parliament plans to give judges guidance on how to interpret Article 8 ECHR (the right to private and family life) in foreign criminal deportation cases – see Adam Wagner’s post for more.
Where’s the justice?
For an examination of the Justice and Security Bill, see Adam Wagner’s post on the UKHRB. He raises a number of points, including the controversial reliance on the case of al-Rawi and others to support the introduction of CMPs into civil trials for damages. Also on that post is a link to a BBC news item where Adam debates the merits of the bill with Professor Anthony Glees, Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies.
Tom Hickman on the UK Constitutional Law Blog asks where the justice is in the Justice and Security Bill, in a post that examines the proposal for CMPs in civil proceedings against the justification that the Government has itself offered for them, a very important exercise in my view. His post follows on from that of Hayley Hooper on the same blog, which provides a comprehensive analysis of the concerns arising from the bill.
On BBC Radio 4, Joshua Rozenberg speaks to a number of eminent lawyers including Daniel Bethlehem, former Foreign Office legal adviser, and Dinah Rose QC about the Justice and Security Bill, the use of weapons such as drones and the extraterritoriality of the ECHR. Very interesting to hear the viewpoint of a former government lawyer.
The Government this week announced that forcing someone to marry will become a criminal offence in England and Wales. The legislation will be introduced in the 2013/14 parliamentary session. For further information, see the Law Gazette. There are concerns that criminalising the practice will force such marriages underground, making them harder to identify, a concern focused on by this Channel 4 news article. To address this concern, £500,000 has been pledged to identify and support those affected.
UK’s human rights exam
The UN’s Universal Periodic Review of the UK appears to have passed by almost without comment, but for Rachit Buch‘s post on the UKHRB. Well worth a read for those interested in the UN mechanisms and on what aspects of the UK’s record were focused on. For instance, Austria voiced concern over the use of “secret evidence”, and many delegations called for work on the detention and prosecution of suspected terrorists, including renditions, the detention of migrants, and on improving access to legal advice for those that are detained. He also noted that some states raised points that were only tangentially linked with human rights, such as safe drinking and phone hacking.
The Guardian has published an article that focuses on the fact that, notwithstanding the removal of inquests from the Justice and Security Bill, the practice of the coroners’ courts varies so much that some may already be considered closed. It makes a plea for consistency by describing how some give the deceased’s full address as a matter of routine, while others refuse to, citing data protection; another arbitrarily withholds the first names of witnesses, and several have a habit of excluding the public whenever a point of law needs to be discussed.
What if John Betjeman had made the twitter bombing joke?
This is the question asked by David Allen Green on the New Statesman, referencing the first line of his poem Slough, which is “Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough!” He make the comparison to bring home the fact that the Paul Chambers case affects all of us who have ever sent content over the internet that somebody at the CPS could somehow deem “menacing” and so commence the horrifying and inescapable bureaucratic procedures that lead to the imposition of a criminal record, simply for making a light-hearted comment.
Contempt of court and open justice
Also from David Allen Green on the New Statesman, an article prompted by the Spectator’s publication of certain details in the Stephen Lawrence case which led to it being charged. He makes the point that a trial is a matter of public importance and so, in a free society, journalists and the public should be able to discuss the case in court in open and robust terms. The only exception should be when such exercises of free speech undermine the right to a fair trial, and he criticises the overly paternalistic attitude towards juries, which assumes that they cannot be trusted to block out adverse publicity. He suggests that this paternalistic attitude creates artificial situations and that we must work out a way to avoid collisions between justice and free speech.
The case for code
A very interesting article on the Guardian by Richard Moorhead that makes the case for a move towards codes and away from the common law. He suggests that the common law overly complicates matters, and notes that a recent study suggests that the more legally complex cases became, the more judges decided cases on the basis of their ideological inclinations.
Housing and human rights
The Nearly Legal blog sets out three recent decisions from the European Court of Human Rights on the subject of housing, including Bjedov v Croatia, Jarnea and others v Romania, and Costache v Romania. The blog notes in particular that Bjedov is potentially a very useful case in the context of applications to suspend warrants when new evidence is presented to a Court that raises fresh Article 8 issues.
The importance of the Administrative Court
Anthony Bradley on the UK Constitutional Law Blog underlines the importance of keeping abreast of the decisions of the Administrative Court, noting that an understanding of its work is a foundation for discussion of the boundaries that do or should exist between the executive, Parliament and the judiciary.
John Hugh Brady v the United Kingdom – 37536/08  ECHR 965 (22 May 2012). Human Rights claim by Real IRA member John Brady re damaging secret information in his sentence review is settled by UK. Wasn’t given enough of a “gist” of damaging information against him.
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Assange kills off Pupino, but ambiguity remains – Alex Tinsley June 7, 2012 1 Crown Office Row
UK passes ‘human rights exam’, but with room to improve June 6, 2012 Rachit Buch
The air that we breathe: NGO’s appeal dismissed June 5, 2012 David Hart QC
Criticisms remain as dust settles on secret trials bill June 5, 2012 Adam Wagner