Abu Hamza, teachers’ anonymity and Chagos refugees – The Human Rights Roundup

1 October 2012 by

Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your weekly bulletin 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 European Court of Human Rights has refused the request of Abu Hamza and four others to refer their extradition appeal to its Grand Chamber for another hearing, meaning that their routes of appeal have finally (probably) come to an end. In other news, the Chagos refugees have gone to court over a note to Baroness Amos concerning their resettlement and teachers have been granted anonymity when facing criminal charges.

by Wessen Jazrawi

End of the appeal line for Abu Hamza

As reported on by Adam Wagner on the UKHRB, the European Court of Human Rights has refused the request of Abu Hamza and four others to refer their extradition appeal to its Grand Chamber for another hearing, which means that their case (decided in the Government’s favour in April – see here) is now final and there are no remaining barriers to their extradition to the United States to face terrorism charges. His post focuses on the length of time it has taken to decide the case, also focused on by the Lord Chief Justice in his press conference (see below).

Adam has written another post on the Hamza situation this week, this time focusing on the fact that the extradition has been put on hold whilst a Judicial Review claim concerning his passport is dealt with this coming Tuesday. He is also challenging the extradition on the grounds of deterioration of mental health, all of which makes my headline, in retrospect, somewhat misleading. Watch this space.

Also see A Human Rights Court Gives Torture the Green Light from U.S.-based The Nation, lamenting the European Court of Human Rights’ failure to classify conditions in U.S. Supermax prisons, where the terrorist suspects are likely to be held. as torture:  “The European Court allowed itself to be misled—accepting facts and figures roundly disputed by human rights advocates and researchers and ignoring an intervention submitted by the UN special rapporteur on torture.”

Gathering the threads of the Justice and Security Bill

In the first of three posts by Obiter J this week, he takes a look at the Justice and Security Bill, from the germs of its inception in Al Rawi v The Security Service and others [2011] UKSC 34 (where the Supreme Court held that it was for Parliament to order a closed material procedure it was thought necessary) to the progression from green paper to bill. He also provides a variety of links to articles about the Bill so useful both as an aide memoire and a source of other commentary. Also on this topic, the Guardian has published a guide to secret courts here.

The Lord Chief Justice’s Press Conference

In the second of three posts by Obiter J, he sets out some of the questions and answers asked at the Lord Chief Justice’s Press Conference, held on Thursday 27th September (transcript here). It provides for fascinating reading and is highly recommended, particularly the comments on lengthy appeals and burglary.

Anonymity to be granted to teachers

In the third and final post, Obiter J discusses a new piece of legislation (Education Act 2011, section 13) that has come into force which provides automatic anonymity to teachers accused of a conduct amounting to a criminal offence, intended to avoid the devastating impact that sometimes false allegations have on teachers’ careers and lives, and asks whether it will create a new trend towards protection of individuals once an allegation involving criminality is made against them. He notes that this measure was pushed through Parliament despite considerable resistance in the House of Lords.

Chagos refugees

The Panopticon blog looks in depth at the recent decision of the First Tier Tribunal in Chagos Refugees Group in Mauritius and Chagos Social Committee (Seychelles) v IC and FCO (EA/2011/0300). The case concerned the withholding by the FCO of information requested by the Chagos refugees that concerned studies relating to their resettlement (a note sent to Baroness Amos). The Tribunal upheld the Chagossians’ appeal in part, on the basis that the weighty public interests served by disclosure of the contents of the Baroness Amos note outweighed the public interest in maintaining the exception for internal communications. David Hart QC on the UKHRB has also posted on this here.

Human rights and the UK constitution

On the Oxford Human Rights hub, Colm O’Cinneide has written a piece about his new report, Human Rights and the UK Constitution, that aims to clarify the central issues at stake in the debate. It examines the state of human rights law in the UK and takes a very close look at the criticisms sustained, and discusses the new proposed Bill of Rights. Adam Wagner has also noted the report’s publication and summarised its findings on the UKHRB here.

Respecting religion

In the first of two posts by Joshua Rozenberg this week, he writes in Standpoint on the subject of religion. He starts with the case of Julius Meinl and links his case somewhat curiously to the four claims against the British government that the court heard in early September on freedom of religion. He outlines the basis of the four claims but goes on to say that he does not think the European Court of Human Rights should find in their favour.

Defining the coroner’s role

The second post by Joshua Rozenberg on the topic of the coroner’s role – he takes the reader on a journey throughout the various pieces of legislation setting out the duties of coroners and notes how slowly changes are made.

Retirement of president of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice

The Ministry of Justice website announced the retirement of Sir Nicholas Wall, the President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice for England and Wales, on grounds of ill health.

Article 8 and possession

Nearly Legal has posted on the recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in Buckland v UKreproduced on the UKHRB here. The post notes that it demonstrates again how wonderfully delphic the subject of housing and Article 8 rights has become and provides an analysis of the judgment that will be of particular interest to those in the property field.  

Favourite five

Finally, the Jobsworth blog by Michael Scutt reviews the law blogs, kindly placing the UKHRB in his favourite five.

In the courts

Re J (A Child: Disclosure) (Rev 1)[2012] EWCA Civ 1204 (21 September 2012). The High Court was wrong not to order disclosure of substance of sex abuse allegations against father in care proceedings. The judge wrongly conflated issue of disclosure with question of whether complainant could give oral evidence. Articles 3 and 6 engaged and pointed towards disclosure.

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7 comments


  1. frednach says:

    It is interesting whilst we await the decision of the HC in the Hamza case. Interesting not simply as an observer but from a number of prospectives. First, in light of the media spillage of the overt comments from Lord Judge whom happens to be furious over the whole sage and blames the delay on the European courts, lest we forget it was the Home Secretary whom failed to wait a single day further before she unlawfully ordered the arrest in one notable case before the appeal date expired; it was not the European court’s who made the error leading to yet more delays and appeals in the proceedings, not to mention public costs.

    Yet one has to question the LCJ as to the timing of his media comments, surely a man of his reputation and standing, particularly among the judiciary may lead to prejudice as to the fairness of subsequent proceedings coupled with the heightened media negativity.

    Second, the application to hault extradition proceedings on grounds of ill health is to be determined solely by the HC Judge who has power to discharge proceedings all together or delay matters until such time as the individual is found to be fit to be tried, contrast this with an application on grounds of unfitness to plea which is normally decided by a jury even though actual proceedings are not classed as ‘criminal’ per se. If the Judge is so persuaded to allow an examination to determine the issue by a MRI scan, as I understand it, what then? Are matters really likely to be discharged or delayed indefinitely with an abuse of due process argument waiting to be had on the latter ground on one side and US political pressure on the other side? And if he is medically unfit, it means extradition cannot happen as it would be unjust or oppressive, put simply if he is unfit here he is unfit to be extradicted in any jurisdiction.

    Third, notwithstanding the extradition proceedings, the fact remains if Mr Hamza’s health has deteriorated due to the whole sage and adverse prison conditions and perhaps exacerbated he may have a case aboard to plea unfit to be tried to the charges made against him to a jury, what then, again? And if his health gets worse he might even say he is completely unable to address any issues and plea not guilty by reason of insanity- are the authorities likey return him back to the US?

  2. ObiterJ says:

    Diego Garcia – looking back to just after the 2010 election I wrote:

    http://watchingthelaw.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/foreign-affairs-and-new-government-will.html

    Thus, the Chagos people were “stuffed” by the last British government (Foreign Secretary David Miliband) in the dying days of the Labour administration.

  3. Laila Namdarkhan says:

    I have been following the case of the Chagos people for decades. The FCO has many questions that need answers as to why after the injustices dumped upon the Chagos people they still refuse to take decent steps to right the wrongs visited upon the people by the then Harold Wilson government.
    It has been proved what was done was illegal people have a right of return which is now being deliberately obstructed by the actions of the FCO in such an arrogant and shameless fashion.

  4. goggzilla says:

    Diego Garcia had the misfortune to be smack in the centre of Soviet shipping lanes in the southern hemisphere. Now it is in the centre of a line from the horn of Africa to Islamic Asia. Location, location, location.

  5. ObiterJ says:

    Thank you for referencing my posts.

    ” …European Court of Human Rights’ failure to classify conditions in U.S. Supermax prisons, where the terrorist suspects are likely to be held. as torture: ..”

    The conditions in Supermax probably do not reach the severity level required to be classified as torture but the treatment can more reasonably be seen as either inhumane or degrading.

    In April, the European Court of HR cleared the way for extradition of Hamza and others – (I think that one case remains to be finally decided). However, it is a pity that the court did not really explain why the submissions of various respected interveners were rejected.

    The court also noted that – even if extradited to the US – Abu Hamza was unlikely to spend very long in a Supermax prison regime. This was due to his health / disability.

  6. forcedadoption says:

    I am British but live in Monaco and in France .The French just boot out foreign agitators without much ceremony or regard for eu directives.Good for them !
    Teachers should not be granted anonymity or special privileges otherwise we will see people jailed just for discussing allegations like they are now for complaining when their children are snatched by the ss! What does seem unfair is that teachers can be immediately suspended on the strength of a single allegation from a pupil.Surely they could be moved to a different class and forbidden under pain of dismissal to contact the pupil complaining about them? I believe in “free speech” and “innocent until proved guilty” and that would satisfy both counts.

  7. John D says:

    Are the proposed secret courts similar in nature to the Court of Star Chamber – and was not legislation passed outlawing the Court of Star Chamber (though it was linked-in with the Privy Council)? Would not the abolition provisions for the Star Chamber still not apply today, except at times of national emergency?

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