A relatively quiet news-week in the world of human rights, with judges and politicians having (in some cases) a well-earned break. Same-sex marriage managed to remain in the headlines with High Court Judge, Sir Paul Coleridge, saying it was a ‘minority issue’. Looking back over the past few weeks there has been some recent interesting commentary on the European Court of Human Rights’ decision against Macedonia; as well as the domestic High Court’s ruling on Scientology. Finally, a pair of articles on the historical and recent relationship between Jews and human rights.
You may also notice that the UK Human Rights Blog has a slightly refreshed design – please do send us your comments if you have any. If you are looking for some new year’s reading, why not try:
- The biggest human rights stories of 2012 – Part 1
- The biggest human rights stories of 2012 – Part 2
- Another cracking year for the UK Human Rights Blog
- UK Human Rights Blog’s fancy WordPress graphical ‘Annual Review’
In the news
High Court Judge on Same-Sex Marriage
High Court Judge Sir Paul Coleridge weighed in on the debate about same-sex marriage this week, arguing that this was a “minority issue” and government policy should, instead, be focusing on a broader breakdown of the institution of marriage within Britain. Meanwhile, head of the Catholic Church in Britain, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, has told the BBC the government had “no mandate” to advance its plans on same-sex marriage legislation.
Sir Paul recently agreed to take a “lower profile role” in his Marriage Foundation as this would be “more appropriate for a serving judicial office holder.” This followed a complaint to the Office for Judicial Complaints.
This news dragged Pink Tape blogger Lucy Reed away from Johnny Depp on television, to provide her thoughts on the issue, criticising Sir Paul’s unwillingness to take a substantive position in favour or against same-sex marriage, per se.
You May Recall…
A few items in the news this week, harking back to some earlier human rights news. Firstly, André Nollkaemper on the European Journal of International Law Blog provides his commentary on the recent European Court of Human Rights decision, holding Macedonia culpable for the mistreatment of Khaled El-Masri. Nollkaemper does not question the conclusion of the court, but raises that the Court has taken a new approach in holding Macedonia responsible not only for its own wrongdoing, but in part for the wrongdoing of the American authorities after it transferred custody of El-Masri.
Last week saw the publication by the CPS of interim guidance on prosecution for misuse of social media (see Adam Wagner’s post here). Subsequently, the BBC has reported a massive eight-fold increase in ‘social media crimes’ over four years, offering some context as to why the new guidance has come into being.
James Wilson has also commented on the recent High Court decision involving the Church of Scientology (see Rosalind English’s post here). Wilson proposes that the courts are not suited to deciding upon religious claims such as these, and instead the marriage system would be better served were it run along French lines, where a simple set of criteria and a fixed fee would be the sole requirements for a marriage certificate.
Professor David Feldman, former Legal Adviser to the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Human Rights, has jotted down his initial thoughts on the Commission on a Bill of Rights Final Report (see Adam Wagner’s thoughts and last week’s roundup for further views). Professor Feldman is encouraged that the report “says nothing” and, whether optimistically or pessimistically, comments that “this is the best for which we could have hoped”.
Also in the News
Two further items of interest, this week: the first of which is use a useful compendium of resources on the Mental Capacity Act provided by The Small Places blog.
Secondly, a two-parter from Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, a former Bill of Rights Commissioner, on the interplay between Judaism, Jews and human rights. The first article looks at the historical relationship between Jewish scholars and human rights institutions and thought, before touching upon the attitude of human rights institutions to Israel. Pinto-Duschinsky’s second piece looks more specifically at the place of human rights restitution in post-war Germany and how human rights law may impact on current Jewish (and indeed Muslim) issues of circumcision and ritual slaughter. He raises an eyebrow at the attitude of our own Adam Wagner on the interplay between human rights and the holocaust. Adam’s comment piece in the Jewish Chronicle can be found here and his piece on human rights and the Holocaust here.
In the courts
- Upper Tribunal issues new country guidance on Syria: a failed asylum seeker or forced returnee would, in general, on arrival face a real risk of arrest and detention and of serious mistreatment during that detention as a result of imputed political opinion. That is sufficient to qualify for refugee protection.
To add events to this list, email Adam Wagner. Please only send events which (i) have their own webpage which can be linked to, and (ii) are relevant to topics covered by the blog.
- Fundamental Rights In Europe of Humanities and Social Sciences – Oxford Brookes University
Fundamental Rights In Europe: A Matter For Two Courts 18 January 2013, Oxford Brookes University
- Refugee and Migrant Children and Young Persons’ Rights in Scots Law
Legal Services Agency, Glasgow, 15/1/13, 10am-1pm, £60-£150
- The biggest human rights stories of 2012 – Part 2, December 30, 2012, Adam Wagner
- The biggest human rights stories of 2012 – Part 1 Dec 29, 2012, Adam Wagner
- Another cracking year for the UK Human Rights Blog Dec 27, 2012 Adam Wagner