Judicial Speeches, Gaza Boycotts and Social Media Crimes – the Human Rights Roundup
18 August 2014
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular sizzling summer show 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 Celia Rooney.
This week, former leaders of the Khmer Rouge face life imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed in Cambodia. In other news, the on-going conflict in Gaza sparks controversy at home, while the Lords inquiry into social media offences reaches an unexpected conclusion.
In the News
Two speeches of significant interest from a human rights perspective this week. Both highly recommended:
- Lord Neuberger at a conference at the Supreme Court of Victoria, Melbourne (PDF)
The role of judges in human rights jurisprudence: a comparison of the Australian and UK experience
- Lady Hale gives keynote address to the Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association Conference 2014 (PDF)
UK Constitutionalism on the March?
Khmer Rouge Leaders Convicted
This week, judges in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia found two former leaders of the Khmer Rouge guilty of crimes against humanity. Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were sentenced to life imprisonment by the UN-assisted court, which found that they were involved in a joint criminal enterprise, united by a common purpose to implement a socialist revolution whatever the cost in terms of human lives. The pair were convicted of murder, political persecution and other inhumane acts. Nuon Chea, also known as ‘brother number two’, was Deputy Secretary of the Community Party of Kampuchea and second in command to Pol Pot during the Khmer Rouge’s bloody revolution. The full text of the judgment can be read here, while a summary can be accessed here.
In light of the on-going escalation of the conflict in Gaza, there have been a number of demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinian people in the UK. For example, last week, Glasgow City Council raised the Palestinian flag over the City Chambers, despite opposition from the Jewish Representative Council, whose President said that they were ‘angered and hurt’ by the gesture. There have also been a number of boycotts of Jewish cultural events. Two Israeli-funded shows at the Edinburgh festival have been cancelled, while a theatre in Kilburn initially refused to hold the Jewish Film Festival on its premises and apparently Sainsbury’s in Holborn temporarily removed its kosher food in order to avoid protests.
Lords Inquiry into Social Media Offences
Parliament’s Communications Committee has published its first report into social media and criminal offences. The report, which was ordered by the House of Lords in June, was produced amid speculation that the current criminal law may not provide adequate protection for those who face abuse online. The report is ‘for information purposes only’ and thus does not make any recommendations to Parliament. Nonetheless, it may be of interest to politicians and practitioners alike, given its somewhat surprising conclusion that no new criminal offences are needed to prosecute social media offences. It is therefore suggested by the report that there is no need to revise the law as it stands, nor the CPS guidelines in relation to such offences. Writing for Halsbury’s Law Exchange, Dan Bunting has queried the Committee’s conclusion here.
In Other News
- The ‘crucial role’ that NGOs play before the Strasbourg court has been considered in this post, by Laura Van den Eynde, for the Strasbourg Observers blog. Ms Van den Eynde demonstrates this point by highlighting three cases involving particularly grave violations of human rights that simply would not have been heard without NGO backing.
- In recent years, politicians have frequently attacked the judiciary’s interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights, with a series of high-profile and controversial Strasbourg judgments dominating the headlines. The Independent has sought to rebalance the debate, and salvage the reputation of the Convention, by highlighting ‘8 ECHR judgments you probably won’t hear David Cameron talking about’.
- The Economist has examined the impact of human rights on military action here, highlighting that the actions of soldiers are increasingly challenged before the courts, in what has been termed ‘Lawfare’.
In the Courts
Refusal to allow male to female transsexual a pension at 60 did not breach EU/human rights law
- Carter, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2603 (Admin) (29 July 2014)
Home Office’s immigration application fee waiver policy breaches article 8 ECHR, rules High Court
In this case, a father sought to challenge expert evidence on his ability to care for his children by way of cross-examination. Unable to do this himself, it was suggested by the court that legal aid may have to be provided to him to ensure his Article 6 European Convention right to a fair trial. The potentially ‘huge’ implications of the case have been considered in depth on the Suessspiciousminds blog here.
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.
- Human Rights in the UK Media: Adam Wagner (amongst many others) is speaking at this conference at Liverpool University on 19 September 2014. £25 for a full delegate or £15 for students – details here
- JUSTICE Human Rights Law Conference 2014– 20th October 2014, London
UK Human Rights Blog Posts
- Strasbourg’s €1.8bn award against Russia – and an arbitral award for $50bn – August 7, 2014 by David Hart QC
- Have the Tricycle Theatre broken the law by refusing to host the Jewish Film Festival? – August 7, 2014 by Adam Wagner
- The rise of the secret trial: Closed Material Procedures one year on – August 5, 2014 by Lawrence McNamara
- The Sun just keeps getting it wrong on human rights – August 4, 2014 by Adam Wagner
- School’s out? Peers ask Government to use summer holidays to reflect on controversial judicial review reforms – August 1, 2014 by Angela Patrick