Inquiry Impasse, Charter Confusion and Competition Time – The Human Rights Roundup
24 November 2013
Updated | Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular swirling snow flurry of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Post by Sarina Kidd, edited and links compiled by Adam Wagner.
This week, there are criticisms over the delay of inquiries both into the mistreatment of terrorism suspects and the Iraq War. Meanwhile, discussion continues over the relevance of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights for UK law, and a dying asylum seeker on hunger strike will not be released.
Request for help – religion and law
In the News
Both the Gibson and Chilcot reports have been delayed for a combined total of more than three and a half years. The Gibson inquiry, which was scrapped before it reached any hearings, is due to release a preliminary report into the mistreatment of terrorism suspects. No reason has yet been given for the delay. The Guardian suggests that ‘the delay is thought to be the result of concerns about a public statement that will accompany the report when it is published’. Meanwhile, Sir John Chilcot and his panel are currently unable to disclose notable documents on the Iraq war. The Chilcot report wants to release 25 notes from Blair to Bush, more than 130 records of conversations between either Blair or Gordon Brown and Bush and information relating to 200 cabinet discussions. Understandably, pressure is now mounting for David Cameron to break the logjam on these reports.
Charter of Fundamental Rights Confusion
The confusion over the domestic status of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights continues. Rosalind English, of UKHRB, has already discussed the matter in detail, and the previous roundup also provides links on the debate.
Mr Justice Mostyn’s recent judgment in R(AB) v Home Secretary suggests that the Charter allows for a range of new rights to be put into UK law, which the British government does not want to include. This has led to a backlash, with Chris Grayling trying to determine whether the Charter does apply to UK law. Carl Gardner, of Head of Legal, reports that Mostyn J was to a large extent got it wrong, and that Grayling’s actual words (for the media reports did not report his statements entirely accurately) were largely correct.
In essence, the Charter does apply in the UK but to a limited extent: only to situations involving EU law, and even in those circumstances not introducing any rights which weren’t available in EU law before. Gardner dissects the two’s arguments and explains the obstacles that the debate is facing. For example, the legal concepts are complex and difficult to fully grasp. This means that the media are not producing accurate and proficient reports on the matter. Furthermore, any discussion and policy involving the EU and human rights are often ideology driven, meaning, ‘we have to scrutinise carefully anything governments do, and anything an MP says, about the combination.’
- 1 Crown Office Row pupil Ross Beaton has won the top £4000 prize in the Bar Council Law Reform essay competition with his essay on assisted dying
- Law students, trainee solicitors, pupil barristers and junior lawyers (current, prospective or inbetween stages) are invited to enter the Law Society’s annual Graham Turnbull essay competition. This year’s title is, ‘Applying human rights and humanitarian law, in what circumstances should forcible measures be permitted against a state that is subjecting its people to human rights abuses?’ The deadline for entries is 21 February 2014.
- Students have been invited by the UK Association for European Law to enter their essay competition, with the winner securing a bursary to attend the biennial FIDE CONGRESS Conference (28-31 May 2014). The title is, ‘Does recent case law suggest that the Court of Justice has lost its way on the issue of EU citizens’ rights?’
The Guardian reports on a High Court ruling that an asylum seeker on hunger strike must stay in custody. The failed asylum seeker, Ifa Muaza from Nigeria, has been on an 85 day hunger strike. Last week, the Home Office issued ‘an end of life plan’ which the Guardian states is part of a more inflexible approach following the release of four asylum detainees on hunger strike in June.
Consultation on the future of the European Court of human Rights
See here for a podcast in which the Head of Court reform, David Milner, details plans for a public consultation on the future of the European Court of Human Rights. Milner wants individuals and organisations to offer their contributions to any aspect of the convention system. The deadline is Monday 27 January 2014, and will result in a report being presented to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.
Consultation on deportation with assurances
Supplementary written evidence from David Anderson QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, has been published by the Home Affairs Committee. Anderson, the independent Terrorism Legislation Reviewer, explains how he has been asked to conduct a review on the UK’s policy of ‘deportation with assurances’ (see, for example, Abu Qatada, who was returned to Jordan in July after the court requirements had been satisfied). Anderson states that he welcomes any knowledge or experience of the DWA, and whilst the evidence will not be published, they will be acknowledged and a conference will be arranged where lawyers, NGOs and others can exchange their views.
Strasbourg Case Law
The European Courts blog continues its roundup of Strasbourg cases, including one on reputation damage and another determining that courts should stick to the rules.
Meanwhile, Hugh Tomlinson at Inforrm analyses two recent Strasbourg cases. In Print Zeitungsverlag GmBH v Austria (Judgment of 10 October 2013) the First Section of the Court of Human Rights held that a domestic judgment in favour of two local politicians did not constitute a breach of Article 10. It is notable because, for what seems to be the first time, the criteria for balancing Articles 8 and 10 in the context of privacy complaints was used in a defamation context. Tomlinson notes that ‘they are not, at first sight, very well adapted for use in this context’. Putitstin v Ukraine is also discussed. This case seems to open up the possibility that in appropriate circumstances, claims for ‘defamation of the dead’ may be brought under Article 8.
In the Courts
- Juncal v. the United Kingdom (dec.) – 32357/09 – Legal Summary  ECHR 1164 (17/09/2013) November 22, 2013
Order for psychiatric confinement made as a result of finding of unfitness to plead: inadmissible
- ISMAIL v. THE UNITED KINGDOM – 48078/09 – Admissibility Decision  ECHR 1153 (17 September 2013) November 22, 2013
- All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition v IC & Foreign and Commonwealth Office  UKUT 560 (AAC)November 22, 2013
First Tier Tribunal acted unfairly as APPGER had been rendered ignorant of the FCO’s primary case. Part of appeal stayed pending Kennedy v Charity Commission in Supreme Court
- Ignaoua, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1498 (21 November 2013) November 21, 2013
Court of Appeal: Government did not have power under Justice and Security Act to terminate Judicial Review proceedings by issuing certificate
- Patel & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 72 (20 November 2013) November 20, 2013
Supreme Court: Secretary of State under no duty to issue removal directions when refusing leave to remain
- Stuart Bracking & Ors v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWCA Civ 1345 (06 November 2013) November 6, 2013
Government’s decision to close “Independent Living Fund” was unlawful for failure to comply with Public Sector Equality duties
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.
- The Response – film screening, Friday 15 Nov, KCL
- The Expectation that Business will Comply with Human Rights: Can the UK Government’s 2013 Policy Work in Practice and in Law?
- Event: The Future of Judicial Review, 19 November 2013
- UCL CLP: Whither the margin of appreciation?
President Dean Spielman (ECHR): Whither the margin of appreciation?, UCL Faculty of Laws Events, Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 6:00 PM
- The Continuing Importance of the Protection of Fundamental Human Rights at Common Law
23 October 2013, Javan Herberg QC, Lord Hoffman and Dinah Rose QC
- Personal consultation with solicitor must be offered before terror questioning, rules High Court – November 24, 2013 by Matthew Flinn
- Judicial Review proceedings may not be terminated by the government – Court of Appeal – November 22, 2013, by Rosalind English
- UK may need law against secret filming and photography after European Court ruling – November 21, 2013 by James Michael
- When is an advert ‘political’ for the purposes of a ban under the Communications Act? – November 21, 2013 by Rosalind English
- Hostility to the European Court and the risks of contagion – November 21, 2013 by Philip Leach and Alice Donald