The biggest human rights stories of 2012 – Part 4 of 4
3 January 2013
Welcome to the fourth and final instalment in the epic UK Human Rights Blog review of 2012. In this post, I will review for your reading pleasure the very recent past: October to December. If you need to catch up:
October (read all posts)
October was a very busy month indeed – here goes…
- Who, where, when and how they died – Arguably, one of the most important but least understood developments for the legal system in the past decade or so has been the rise of the inquest, as slowly but steadily the coronial system for investigating deaths has been brought into the 21st (or at least the 20th century). One of the much-needed system reforms which made it through the budget cuts was the appointment of a chief coroner; find out what he is planning here: The 21st Century Coroner
- Please release me – A bit of an odd legal saga; the Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s right to require the US to produce a prisoner who was held in Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, but also turned down Reprieve’s request that the UK Government do more to secure his return: Supreme Court upholds US detention of Yunus Rahmatullah – see also The dissenting voices in Rahmatullah: no time for political sensitivities
- Human rights under threat – … from a variety of places: the shrinking of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (Last quango in Paris? Why the fate of the EHRC is important for all of us); reducing the scope of the Human Rights Act (Why saving the Human Rights Act will be good for your health); the continuous flouting of the Rule of Law (More shenanigans on prisoner votes).
- File under ‘technical but important’ – The revolving door of EU criminal justice – Jodie Blackstock
- A fantastic case, for all sorts of reasons – Prince Charles and the curious case of the Black Spider Letters
- Free expression and social media prosecutions – Did you recognise the picture of Liam Stacey in the image above? I included him because in my view, his 12-week prison sentence for posting a sick joke on his Facbeook profile was one of the most important human rights stories of the year: read why in my post or listen to me on Law in Action speaking about the issue.
- Strasbourg affirms Official Solicitor’s role – You may never have heard of the Official Solicitor, but this longstanding post is a crucial component of the legal system and in particular protecting the most vulnerable people in society: read why here Autonomy and the role of the Official Solicitor – whose interests are really being represented?
- And another cracking judgment on redressing historic grievances – We haven’t heard the last of this, with the FCO seeking permission to appeal: Mau Mau torture claims against Foreign Office not time barred rules High Court
- He’s off – Finally… Goodbye Abu Hamza (really this time)
November (read all posts)
- The report which everyone was waiting for – And which needs no introduction (unlike this one)… The Leveson Report into the culture, practices and ethics of the press.
- UK not doing enough to combat human trafficking and domestic slavery – An important ruling from Strasbourg, but only of historical significance as the law has changed since the events complained of (section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 fills the gap which the Court held had existed in UK law). Interesting as a rare example of a case brought under Article 4, which prohibits slavery.
- Another important Strasbourg judgment – The effects of this could be huge: human rights victory for BNP bus driver.
- Two fascinating judicial speeches – Trust me, read them both: (1) Have human rights hijacked the language of morals? – and other questions: Laws; (2) The BAILII lecture: No Judgment, No Justice – Lord Neuberger
- Secret courts bill makes it through the Lords, just about – The Government’s proposals for bringing secret hearings to civil trials are currently in the Commons; read our most recent update on how things changed in the House of Lords: Secret Courts remixed: any better than the original? – Angela Patrick
- Rule of law under review – The Government announces its plans to ‘implement’ the prisoner votes judgment, I speculated on the effect would be a £1,000 prisoner vote signing on bonus? Meanwhile, will there be a war on Judicial Review? In the event, the detailed plans were revealed in December.
- Abu Qatada released from detention – I said it was in the public interest
- Remember Article 8 and a half? Upper Tribunal confirms the legitimacy of the new immigration rules – but questions their completeness
December (read all posts)
Remember December? You probably should as it ended four days ago. Anyway, here’s the final part of the roundup…
- Commission on a Bill of Rights reports – To the almost universal sound of ‘meh’ (which even almost silenced the grasshoppers), the Government’s dysfunctional commission released its report. I called it a ‘modest proposal‘. Amy Williams asked what lay beneath. How did you do on Commission on a Bill of Rights BINGO?
- Not for the faint hearted – A post which Tom Watson MP recommended all of his Parliamentary colleagues to read: Strasbourg takes on extraordinary rendition for the first time in a Macedonian case involving CIA torture: extraordinary rendition gets to Strasbourg – a right to the truth
- What will get you arrested on Facebook and Twitter? We still don’t really know, but the Director of Public Prosecutions has made it less likely that people will be prosecuted for saying stupid things. Less likely, but not impossible: here are my thoughts: New prosecution guidance on offensive speech online: sensible, but the law is still out of date
- Important Supreme Court decision – Volunteers not entitled to protection of disability discrimination laws.
- And finally – The issue which is likely to dominate the headlines again well before the year is up, gay marriage. The Government announced in December that contrary to what it had said previously, religious gay marriages would be allowed, except for under the Church of England, which would be ‘quadruple locked’ from performing them. Curiouser and curiouser. Read the Government’s consultation response or my post (written before the quad-lock announcement): Allowing religious gay marriages will avoid human rights challenges
So that’s it. If you have made it this far, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you will score a perfect ten in the ‘2012 human rights news’ section of the next pub quiz you attend. Thanks again for following the blog and to all of our amazing writers who put their time and effort into making the blog happen. We will be (in fact, already are) back with all of the human rights news fit to print in 2013.
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