The Round-up: Black Spiders and Superhero Jurisdictions
7 April 2015
Hannah Lynes brings us the latest edition of the Human Rights Round-up
In the news
A challenge brought against a Home Office decision to deport LGBT activist Aderonke Apata was this week rejected by the High Court. Ms Apata fears a return to Nigeria would mean “imprisonment and death because of her sexuality”, reports the Independent.
Ms Apata claimed to be engaged to a long-term partner and the paper reports that she was “so desperate to convince the Government she was gay that she submitted a private DVD and photographs of her sex life as evidence.”
However, although Judge John Bowers QC accepted that Ms Apata had participated in same-sex relationships, he agreed with the Home Office that she had done so in order to fabricate a claim for asylum [para. 32 of the judgment]. Commenting on the case for the justice gap blog, barrister Jennifer Blair contends that applicants for asylum based on sexuality are “being held to an unrealistically high standard of proof”. It is “hard to see what more evidence a person in [Ms Apata’s] position could provide”.
The Home Office had less success in its attempt to restrain Mrs Justice Laing from exercising what it described as a “superhero” jurisdiction in Xue v Secretary of State, where a finding of unlawful detention was made. Barrister Colin Yeo writes that the case “adds to the growing collection of judgments in which the Home Office has been found to have caused serious harm to migrants with mental health issues.” It follows a highly critical report published recently by a cross-party parliamentary inquiry which describes the current detention system as “expensive, ineffective and unjust”.
- The Supreme Court has ruled in Pham v Home Secretary that a government decision to deprive the applicant of UK citizenship did not render him stateless, despite a subsequent refusal of the Vietnamese government to confirm his status as a national of Vietnam. Simon Cox considers the decision on the Open Societies Foundation website, as does 1COR’s Hannah Noyce for the UKHRB here.
- The University of Southampton has cancelled a conference discussing the right of Israel to exist, leading organisers to accuse the institution of bowing to political pressure at the expense of free speech. The Guardian reports here.
- BBC: The decision of the Supreme Court in Evans paves the way for publication of the so-called “black spider” memos of Prince Charles.
- The Guardian: Mr Justice Nicol has refused a request by the media to report certain sections of the trial of Erol Incedal, which was held largely behind closed doors. Mr Incedal was found not guilty of preparing an act of terrorism.
In the courts
R. (on the application of Evans) v Attorney General  UKSC 21
In a much heralded decision, the Supreme Court held by a majority that the Attorney General had not been entitled to issue a certificate under s.53 of the Freedom of Information Act preventing disclosure of correspondence between the Prince of Wales and government departments. The certificate had been issued to override a decision of the Upper Tribunal ordering release of the communications.
In a piece for the UKHRB, Matthew Flinn considers the leading judgment given by Lord Neuberger (with whom Lords Kerr and Reed agreed). Lord Neuberger reasons that section 53 does not permit a member of the executive to overturn a decision of the Upper Tribunal merely because he or she disagrees with it. This would cut across fundamental constitutional principles, namely that a decision of a court is binding between the parties, and that decisions and actions of the executive are reviewable by the courts, not vice versa. If Parliament had intended to give the Attorney General such a power, it would have had to do so expressly.
- Leaving the war zone? Lawyers’ role in the transition to post conflict Colombia
Foreign affairs journalist, Ed Vulliamy, will be chairing a discussion of first-hand experiences and expert legal opinion to launch the Colombia Caravana report. Speaking at the event on 29 April will be UKHRB General Editor Adam Wagner as well as Patricia Ayodeji, Sue Willman and Professor Sara Chandler. Further details can be found here.
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