Caesareans, Transparency, Torture and Prisoner Votes – the Human Rights Roundup

23 December 2013 by

HRRWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular raging winter storm of human rights news and views.  The full list of links can be found here.  You can find previous roundups here.  Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd. 

The Government received an unwelcome early christmas present this week, with the Joint Parliamentary Committee reporting that a blanket ban on prisoner enfranchisement had no rational basis. Meanwhile, Britain’s potentially unlawful treatment of detainees with regard to rendition and torture are coming to light with the Gibson Inquiry, and a senior judge has announced that perhaps, after the ‘forced Caesarean’ escalation, there needs to be more transparency in the family courts and Court of Protection.

In the News

Colluding with Torture and Rendition?

Much has now been said on the Gibson Inquiry and you can find the UKHRB discussion on it here. Philippa Whipple QC of One Crown Office Row was lead counsel to the Inquiry and Matthew Hill, also of 1COR, was also involved as counsel. The Inquiry reviewed 20,000 documents, many top secret, and found evidence that Britain was involved in the rendition and ill-treatment of terror suspects. No evidence was found, however, that officers were directly involved in the torture or rendition of suspects.  The Inquiry has highlighted 27 issues which should be examined further, in relation to the themes of interrogation and treatment, rendition, training and guidance, and policy and communications within Government.

Ken Clarke has announced that a further investigation by a committee of MPs and peers will now be held into the highlighted areas of concern. Meanwhile, Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary at the time, reportedly ‘welcomed’ the Parliamentary committee’s investigation but stressed that, ‘I was never in any way complicit in the unlawful rendition or detention of individuals by the United States or any other states.’

Adam Wagner’s post is here.

Prisoner voting

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill was published on the 18th December and can be found here.

Notably, the report recommends enacting legislation so that ‘all prisoners serving sentences of 12 months or less should be entitled to vote in all UK parliamentary, local and European elections’. For further analysis of the report’s implications, see Obiter J here, and Adam Wagner’s UKHRB post here.

Meanwhile, in Petition of Moohan, Moohan, Re Judicial Review [2013] ScotCS CSOH_199 the Court of Session (Outer House) has rejected a judicial review of the Scottish Independence (Referendum) Act 2013. Sections 2 and 3 of the Act were being petitioned, regarding who could vote in the upcoming Referendum. The claimants, all currently serving time in prison, were challenging the blanket ban of prisoner voting on human rights and European law grounds. The court decided, however, that the Article 10 ECHR right (Right to freedom of expression) and previous rulings by other courts on the enfranchisement, did not cover prisoner voting in a referendum.

Still on the subject, Maurice Sheridan at the UK Supreme Court blog revisits the key judgments in Chester v Secretary of State for Justice; R (McGeogh V The Lord President of the Council and Another (Scotland). These also concerned the blanket disenfranchisement of all service prisoners. The court decided, in line with Strasbourg and Hirst v UK (no 2) 2005, that a blanket ban was contrary to the ECHR right to vote. Sheridan  analyses the cases in detail, noting that, ‘in may be a matter of regret to some, including those in favour of the blanket ban on serving prisoners’ voting rights, that no reference was made to the CJEU on the EU law issues, as that would have allowed them the opportunity to have argued and succeeded before the CJEU, and hence conclusively as to all Member States, on the blanket ban’. UKHRB post here.

Migration, Migration

Matt Evans at the Justice Gap discusses the legal implications behind the Home Office threat to ‘clamp down’ on the way EU citizens can enter the UK, with Theresa May recently stressing that ‘there is a growing concern about the abuse of free movement in the EU’. — examines whether the government can really prevent or restrict Bulgarians and Romanians from working in the UK after 1 January 2014 (no) and the consequences if the UK does decide to act in defiance of EU law. For example, if UK employers refuse employment due to UK restrictions,  they could be susceptible to a Francovich damages action. Evans feels quite strongly that  ‘Theresa May remains deeply entrenched in her own personal Groundhog Day. However, whilst it may be too much of a stretch to believe that recent events will lead her to re-examine her life and priorities, she should at least take this opportunity to stop pretending that she can change legal reality’.

Hunger strike

Meanwhile, Isa Muazu, the Nigerian asylum seeker on hunger strike for three months, has lost his bid to stay in the UK. Muazu argued that if he were to go back to Nigeria, Islamist militants could kill him. However, a psychiatrist found that his ‘disturbed beliefs’ were part of a severe mental illness. UKHRB coverage of the Court of Appeal judgment here.

Caesareans and Court Transparency

Sir James Munby, the senior family judge in England and Wales, has said in the wake of the ‘forced caesarean’ media outrage that there must be greater transparency in the family courts and the Court of Protection. Rozenberg explains that Munby appears to be suggesting that judgments should be transcribed and published unless they are unlikely to be of any public interest and that ‘someone will have to meet the costs of the transcripts. But it’s a small price to pay for greater public confidence in the family courts. And, as Munby himself acknowledges, when judges can change someone’s whole life by a stroke of the pen, there is a pressing need for greater openness’.

Whilst Lucy Reed of PinkTape agrees with Munby’s statement that, ‘How can the family justice system blame the media for inaccuracy in the reporting of family cases if for whatever reason none of the relevant information has been put before the public?’ she argues that the causation of the caesarean media furore is more complex than such a solution suggests. Whilst she agrees that information should be made publicly available, ‘I don’t think that excuses reporting that is knowingly based on incomplete information, that is expressed in trenchant and inaccurate terms and misleads the public about matters of genuine public interest’.

Rosalind English’s UKHRB post on the matter can be found here.

Excellent article

Nothing to add to this excellent in-depth feature from Jon Henley in the Guardian on the European Court of Human Rights – it is refreshingly useful and well-researched. The title is a little incendiary, but the article is much less so.

Case comments

In other news

In the Courts

Upcoming Events

To add 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 the topics covered by this blog.

UK Human Rights Blog 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: