Misleading Media, Immigration Snakes and Ladders and Human Rights Endurance – The Human Rights Roundup

14 October 2013 by

snakes HRBWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular full brass band of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can  find previous roundups herePost by Sarina Kidd, edited and links compiled by Adam Wagner.

This week, Lord Neuberger implied that even if the Human Rights Act were to be abolished, the court would continue to uphold human rights, perhaps foreshadowing the Supreme Court’s decision in Osborn. Meanwhile, the controversial Immigration Bill  now has its overarching documents available, LSE are looking to create a written constitution and the Daily Mail are in trouble, again.

In the News

Party intentions and human rights persistence

The protection of human rights is set to be a hot topic in the run up to the general election in 2015. In a useful summary, Act for UK Rights lays down the different parties’ intentions for the Human Rights Act. Nick Clegg has listed ‘not ditching the Human Rights Act’ as one of the key things that the Liberal Democrats have prevented the Conservatives from doing in the coalition. Labour, of course, ‘support the Human Rights Act and its role in protecting people’, whilst the Conservatives plan to ‘scrap’ it and alter the UK’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights.

Joshua Rozenberg analyses Lord Neuberger’s comments on Conservative plans to take power away from Strasbourg. The Supreme Court president stated that, ‘I do not think it is politically controversial that some form of human rights or citizen’s rights against the state are encoded or enshrined in a statute or some similar document so that they can be enforced in the courts’. This suggests that even if the Act were to be abolished, the courts would continue to uphold human rights – this is an interesting foreshadowing of the decision in Osborn which followed only days later.

Meanwhile, Anthony Bradley discusses Jack Straw’s Hamlyn Lectures, in a review of his published collection. Straw, when discussing the Human Rights Act and Europe, blamed the current discontent towards Europe as being due to the ‘ever expanding remit of the Strasbourg Court for which it has no mandate’.  Whilst accepting that the Convention should permit the Court to protect ‘basic human rights’ he agreed with Lord Hoffmann that these basic rights should not be stretched. Anthony Bradley dissects Straw’s arguments, noting that whilst he welcomes Straw’s continuing support for the HRA, ‘the features of the Strasbourg court that Straw now blames for the current discontents were all present and clearly visible in 1997’.

A written constitution?

The LSE has begun a project in collaboration with Democratic Audit to draft a new constitution for the UK by ‘crowdsourcing’. As Professor Conor Gearty explains, the ‘UK has no constitution, or as every first year law student learns, it has no constitution written down in one grand document’. Carl Gardner, of Head of Legal, states that although he is ‘firmly against a written constitution for Britain’ he thinks it is a ‘brilliant project’. Constitutionuk.com will provide a forum for debating, and suggested content covers equality of esteem, the celebration of respect for diversity, the protection of freedoms, subsidiarity and the guarantee of human security’.

A game of snakes and ladders: The Immigration Bill

You can track the progress of the Home Office’s major new Immigration Bill here. The overarching documents  are available here, looking at ‘proposed changes to reform the removals and appeals system, end the abuse of Article 8 and prevent illegal immigrants accessing and abusing public services or the labour market’. The Immigration Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 10 October 2013.

The United Kingdom Immigration Law Blog discusses the Bill further, stating that ‘Immigration is the burning issue in the UK’s political arena’. Theresa May has likened the immigration system to a ‘never-ending game of snakes and ladders’ and is intent on ‘clamping down on the abuse of human rights in immigration appeals’.

The Misleading Media

This week, the ECHR corrected fallacious information that has featured recently in British Media. One example is of a Daily Mail article claiming that Strasbourg judges ‘handed the criminals taxpayer-funded payouts of £4.4 million – an average of £22,000 a head’. But this is ‘seriously misleading’, according to the court.  Obiter J’ discusses the offending article here – see also Joshua Rozenberg.

In other news

Case Comments

Should the UK create a system for independently investigating the deaths of detained psychiatric patients? Lord Justice Aiken and Mr Justice Mitting handed down judgment this week on the matter, finding that the current law did not require it. They suggested, however, that for public policy purposes, the UK may wish to create such a system.

In the Courts

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