More Veils, Detention Abuse and Police Reports – The Human Rights Roundup

23 September 2013 by

Yarls-Wood-HRRWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular fruit salad of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can  find previous roundups herePost by Daniel Isenberg, edited and links compiled by Adam Wagner.

Judge Peter Murphy’s ruling on the niqaab in criminal proceedings dominates this week’s commentary.  Some interesting pieces also on immigration detention following the outcry about abuse at one facility; and conflict between the IPCC and Metropolitan Police about internal investigations…

Human Rights Awards and Tour: Liberty has opened nominations for their 2013 Liberty Human Rights Awards – all details here. Meanwhile, the British Institute on Human Rights’ free Human Rights Tour is now in full swing – full programme here.

In the News

Niqaabs on the Stand

The debate about the wearing of a veil in court continued this week, following the ruling of HH Judge Peter Murphy that a defendant would have to remove her veil when giving evidence from the dock – such that she could be seen by judge, lawyers and jury (see the UKHRB posts on the issue here and here).  Dominic Casciani on the BBC provides a useful explanation of the judgment, in which he delves into the balancing exercise between religious freedom and “open and effective justice”.  He adds that “critically”, the judge ensured that there would be no publication of any court sketch of the woman unveiled, and that for the remainder of the trial she could wear her niqab, so long as another woman in court could verify her identity.

Carl Gardner on his Head of Legal blog provides detailed analysis on the issue: firstly, with annotations on the judgment, itself; and secondly with a blog piece on the issue.  Gardner does not find the ruling either “well argued or persuasive”: central to this thesis is the point that since a defendant may be stopped from giving evidence in her defence, this restrains her right to a fair hearing.  Indeed, he criticises a focus on the right to manifest one’s religion under Art 9, not fair hearings under Art 6.  Joshua Rozenberg critiques the judgment, but for different reasons.  His position is that a defendant should have to show her face throughout a trial – so that she can be seen by judge, jury and, indeed, witnesses testifying.  He also raises a further intriguing and often-overlooked point.  In preventing court drawings being published with the image of the defendant without her veil, the judge seemingly did not take legal argument from representative of the media on this possible restriction of Article 10 (freedom of expression).

Barrister Matthew Scott on his blog takes a dissenting view – arguing that defendants should be allowed to give evidence wearing a veil.  His position is that jurors try a case on the evidence, not the appearance of the defendant and that a witness’s “demeanour” is no real guide to the truthfulness – or otherwise – of their testimony.  Moreover, if the defendant opts not to testify on the basis of this ruling, what possible inference are the jury supposed to draw?  A seemingly neat solution from the perspective of permitting the veil is proposed by Francis FitzGibbon QC, who suggests a simple formula from the judge: permitting the defendant to remain veiled, but warning of the possible consequences if jurors are unable to witness her facial reactions during the trial.

Simon Hetherington on Halsbury’s Law Exchange weighs up the competing arguments on both sides of this debate, and raises a novel point: even though many arguments point towards the removal of the veil, this does not take into account the distress that this is likely to cause a defendant during an already-testing ordeal.  This judgment has broadened the scope of debates about the veil, with the BBC reporting that there is to be a review of whether full face veils should be permitted amongst NHS staff.  Meanwhile, the High Court has held in B & Anor that removal of individuals to France, where the burkha is banned in public, does not come close to the high threshold required for a breach of Article 3 (against torture and degrading treatment).

Immigration Detention

Colin Yeo on the Free Movement blog makes a powerful case against immigration detention, following the allegations of sexual abuse by private security contractors at the Yarl’s Wood facility (pictured).  He questions the Home Office position that detention is required for removal on the basis of statistics which suggest asylum removals are decreasing, while the number in detention is on the rise.  He goes as far as to claim that the system “dehumanises” all those affected.

Along similar lines, Natasha Walter on The Telegraph looks at the system of detention from the perspective of a pregnant woman.  Walter notes that detention “can have a shocking effect on women who are already traumatised from the abuses they have fled.”  She cites MP Richard Fuller, whose position is that detaining “very vulnerable women is not cost effective, it’s not effective in removing migrants – and it’s not moral”.

Police & Prisons

The Guardian reports that the Independent Police Complaints Commission is seeking an order from the High Court to compel Scotland Yard to disclose the results of an investigation into whether anti-terrorism laws were being used to discriminate against Muslims.  The claims relate to the same legislation (Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act) that was recently used to detain David Miranda at Heathrow.

Over on Legal Voice, Gemma Blythe reports on the Coalition’s proposals on legal aid reforms for prisoners.  In her concern about the proposed changes, her article provides case studies in various areas where cuts are due to fall: parole, rehabilitation, segregation issues and abuse.

Case Comments

  • The Suesspiciousminds blog comments on the important decision in Re BS (Children) (see ‘In the Courts’), laying out the Court of Appeal’s setting out of the law on non-consensual adoption, following the decision of the Supreme Court in Re B.
  • The BBC reports that the High Court has rejected the claim that the requirement for those on the Sexual Offences Register to provide bank and credit card details is a breach of Article 8 (see Prothero ‘In the Courts’).  The UK Criminal Law Blog provides further analysis, including concerns about the proportionality of the requirement; specifically that there is no tailoring of procedure for individuals on the Register.

 Also in the News

  • ‘This week in Strasbourg’ roundup on the European Courts blog.
  • The BIHR Human Rights Tour kicks off at the Act for UK Rights Blog.
  • Dr Mark Elliott presents a list of blogs and Twitter-ers ideal for new students embarking on law courses this autumn.

 In the Courts

Upcoming Events

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.

UKHRB posts

Welcome to the UKHRB

This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.




Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals Anne Sacoolas anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 article 263 TFEU Artificial Intelligence Asbestos Assange assisted suicide asylum asylum seekers Australia autism badgers benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board care homes Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Commission on a Bill of Rights common law communications competition confidentiality consent conservation constitution contact order contact tracing contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus coronavirus act 2020 costs costs budgets Court of Protection covid crime criminal law Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation DEFRA deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention Dignitas diplomacy diplomatic relations disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Equality Act 2010 Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Facebook Facial Recognition Family Fatal Accidents Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage gay rights Gaza Gender genetics Germany Google Grenfell Gun Control hague convention Harry Dunn Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Human Rights Watch Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests insurance international law internet inuit Iran Iraq Ireland islam Israel Italy IVF ivory ban Japan joint enterprise judaism judicial review Judicial Review reform Julian Assange jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid legal aid cuts Leveson Inquiry lgbtq liability Libel Liberty Libya lisbon treaty Lithuania local authorities marriage Media and Censorship mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery morocco murder music Muslim nationality national security naturism neuroscience NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury physician assisted death Piracy Plagiarism planning planning system Poland Police Politics Pope press prison Prisoners prisoner votes Prisons privacy procurement Professional Discipline Property proportionality prosecutions prostituton Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries quarantine Radicalisation refugee rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania round-up Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials sexual offence shamima begum Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance sweatshops Syria Tax technology Terrorism The Round Up tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine universal credit universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Weekly Round-up Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

%d bloggers like this: