Prince Harry’s photos, squatting and defining rape – The Human Rights Roundup

2 September 2012 by

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.

This week the Sun published naked photos of Prince Harry, squatting was criminalised, and commentators continued to discuss the question of rape in the context of Julian Assange and the various sexual crimes he has been accused of. In so publishing the photos, the Sun claimed a public interest defence, something which the legal bloggers have been examining. In news from South Africa, a group of 259 miners has been charged with the murder of their 34 colleagues who were shot dead by the police.
by Wessen Jazrawi
The news

Prince Harry and those photographs

Unsurprisingly, the legal blogs had a lot to say about the publication of the naked photos of Prince Harry. The Inforrm blog listed the 5 lessons for media regulation that have come out of it, including that the media does not understand privacy, it pays no attention to the PCC or its editors’ code, and no opportunity will be lost to blame Lord Justice Leveson. It concludes that effective media regulation is a necessity. Also on Inforrm, Brian Pillans has provided a thorough analysis of the legality of the publication, concluding that it is questionable whether the publication breach privacy law or even breach the Editors’ Code of Practice. The Halsbury’s Law Exchange has also written a piece on the photos that also concludes that on balance the Sun is entitled to publish the photos and notes that, contrary to the statement by the Sun’s Managing Editor, the PCC does not make law.

Squatting now a criminal offence

The Ministry of Justice provides a short statement on the new rules while Nearly Legal provides some very interesting commentary and points out some issues with the new legislation. Definitely worth a read.

Defining rape

Felicity Gerry on the Halsbury’s Law Exchange has written an excellent piece on defining rape which follows on from the Assange case and the comments made by George Galloway. It deals with the two offences Assange has been accused of – that of sex with a sleeping woman and the attempt to have sex with a woman without a condom, both of which are offences in this country.
Liberty’s human rights awards
The deadline for nominating someone for Liberty’s Human Rights Awards is this Friday so get thinking! Previous winners have included Janis Sharp for her campaign to protect her son, Gary McKinnon, from extradition to the USA and Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholas Mercer for his integrity and courage in the face of the denial of human rights abuses by British forces in Iraq. For more information on how to nominate, see here.
Miners arrested for murder

259 Marikana miners have been charged with the murder of their 34 colleagues who were shot dead by the police. In so doing, the police relied on the “common purpose” doctrine that was heavily used in the apartheid era. Pierre de Vos on the Constitutionally Speaking blog has written an excellent piece on the history of this doctrine as well as the law applicable to what has happened. He concludes that – as no court could find that those charged intended to make common cause with the police to shoot their own comrades – there must be another aim, such as to stigmatise the miners in the eyes of the public or to intimidate them in an attempt to break their spirit.

The latest updated from the BBC is that South Africa has provisionally dropped the miner murder charges.

Dissent in the UKSC

Chris Hanretty on the UK Supreme Court blog has taken a look at the levels of dissent in the Supreme Court. He admits that he had expected Baroness Hale to be the most dissentient judge based on her dissents in a number of high profile cases, and in particular on the manner of her dissents. Instead, the facts showed it was Lords Rodger (who died last year) and Kerr have shown the greatest propensity to issue dissenting judgements, doing so in 10/63 and 13/86 cases heard respectively, a large number of which concern Scots and Northern Irish cases.

Scottish adoption law compatible with human right to family life

For those interested in family law, Alasdair Henderson has analysed the case of ANS v ML [2012] UKSC 30 on the UK Supreme Court blog (first published on this blog).

Tribute to Judge Tulkens
The Strasbourg Observers have posted a tribute to Judge Tulkens by Professors Sébastien Van Drooghenbroeck and Frédéric Krenc that takes a special look at the recent kettling judgment of Austin v UK.
The courts
R (on the application of Foley) v Parole Board for England and Wales & Anor [2012] EWHC 2184 (Admin). Parole Board correct not to allow female arsonist half way through determinate sentence release on licence, and no discrimination under ECHR.

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