“Pan troglodytes”, politics and other human rights proposals – the Weekly Roundup
26 April 2015
“If the Conservatives come back into power it’s revolution time”. These are the words of ex-Court of Appeal judge Sir Antony Hooper at a legal aid protest rally on Thursday, as he called for lawyers to ‘walk-out’ in the event of a Conservative victory. At the same rally another senior judge, Sir Alan Moses, lamented that all political parties are ignoring “the plight of those who [cannot] afford a lawyer” – citing that only the Greens have pledged to reverse the cuts to legal aid.
However, academic Graham Gee warns against using disrespectful rhetoric when analysing the Tory manifesto. He argues people should avoid “creating an impression that [Conservative] proposals are beyond-the-pale and reflective only of short-term, self-interested calculations”.
In other political news, Justice.org hosted a debate between Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative representatives. The debate is summarised here or available in full here. Mark Eliot analyses comments made at the debate by Lord Faulks (Conservative), concluding that the manifesto masks “more-radical [human rights] proposals”, although realpolitik will prevent them from being implemented.
For anyone wanting more information on the various manifestos, The Justice Gap has put together an excellent summary – covering Labour, Lib Dems, Conservatives, Greens and UKIP.
Nonhuman Rights Project: NhRP came close to making legal history by having two chimpanzees recognised as legal persons. An American judge first issued a writ of habeas corpus on their behalf, before retracting it later citing an “inaccurate press release” (compare the Order before and after). Nonetheless, this is still a huge development for NhRP: they are guaranteed a day in court and the burden now switches to the defendant (Stony Brook University) to provide a legally acceptable reason for ‘unlawfully imprisoning’ the two chimps. The story is analysed by Wired: “a precedent is set that a chimp is person enough to deserve a hearing”. Read NhRP’s statement here.
- Human Rights Watch: Azerbaijan has sentenced two human rights campaigners to 7.5 and 6.5 years jail respectively, on “bogus” charges. According to a report by Protection of Human Rights Defenders, this is part of a “crackdown” on human rights as Azerbaijan prepares to host the European Games. Despite this, Team GB are “delighted” to be sending 153 athletes to the games, and Bernie Ecclestone has no concerns either.
- BBC: The German president has described the killings of 1.5m Armenians in 1915 as “genocide”.
- Labour promises to make the UK a haven for LGBT asylum seekers.
- The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights has criticised the UK tabloid press, comparing Katie Hopkins´article on migrant deaths to the rhetoric used in the Rwandan Genocide.
- Rights Info has launched! You can subscribe to UKHRB’s Adam Wagner’s new initiative here. Visit this page to navigate yourself around the site, and be sure to check out the debunking of the 14 worst human rights myths.
A transgender woman has lost her attempt to retrospectively change the birth certificate of her first child to reflect that she is no longer a “father”. Rosalind English analyses the case, and its Article 8 implications, here.
A french lawyer trying to assist his client in a police station was subjected to a full body search, blood alcohol test and placed in custody himself. The European Court of Human Rights found that this violated his Article 5 (right to liberty) rights.
In a blistering judgement, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets has been kicked out of office for “corrupt and illegal practices”. Richard Mawrey QC concluded that Mr Rahman showed “ruthless ambition”, shamelessly played the “race card” to falsely paint his opponents as racist and showed undue spiritual influence to convince voters that it was their “duty as Muslims” to elect him. The case is covered by the BBC, Guardian and Telegraph, among others.
- Kings College London and the universities of Bologna and Strasbourg are hosting a Summer school between 28 June and 3 July on “The Protection of Fundamental Rights in Europe“. It is to be held in an Italian castle, and you can register here.
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