In the news
The drowning of several hundred migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean has dominated headlines in recent weeks, prompting a special meeting of the European Council on 23 April. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has called for ‘a robust search-and-rescue operation in the Central Mediterranean, not only a border patrol’.
Under the ECHR, migrants rescued at sea cannot be returned if there is a ‘real risk’ of treatment that is incompatible with the absolute provisions of the Convention. Jacques Hartmann and Irini Papanicolopulu consider claims that human rights law therefore creates a perverse incentive for EU Member States not to conduct operations proactively.
Electoral law has been the subject of much commentary following the removal of Lutfur Rahman from his position as Mayor of Tower Hamlets. In a strongly-worded judgment issued by Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC, Mr Rahman was found to have engaged in corrupt and illegal practices contrary to the Representation of the People Act 1983. The BBC reports here.
Particular controversy has surrounded the finding that Mr Rahman was guilty of ‘undue spiritual influence’, on account of Muslim clerics participating in his campaign ‘to persuade Muslim voters that it was their religious duty to vote for him’ [para. 564]. Writing in the Guardian, Giles Fraser is critical of what he deems to be an application of a law ‘that was developed to subdue Irish Roman Catholics… to a contemporary religious minority that is suffering from a very similar brew of racism and hostility.’ Martin Downs of 1COR comments on the decision for UKHRB.
- The Constitution Society and UK Constitutional Law Association paper, “‘Common Sense’ or Confusion? The Human Rights Act and the Conservative Party”, is available online. Stephen Dimelow and Alison L Young scrutinise Conservative Party proposals for Britain’s human rights laws.
- ‘Delivering Justice in an Age of Austerity’: a Justice Working Party report sets out recommendations for improved access to justice in the current political climate. Ruchi Parekh provides a summary of the proposals for the UK Constitutional Law Blog.
In the courts
Disciplinary proceedings brought against an employee did not amount to unlawful discrimination because of her religion. An Employment Tribunal found that although treatment of the Claimant occurred in the context of her religious acts, the reason for the treatment was because her acts amounted to an abuse of authority. Article 9 of the ECHR (holding and manifesting religious belief) did not give an employee a complete and unfettered right to discuss or act on their religious beliefs at work.
Frank Cranmer considers the decision in Law & Religion UK.
The Upper Tribunal considered whether a subsequent assertion of a human rights breach was sufficient to generate a right of appeal under the Immigration Act 2014. The Tribunal held that it could do so only if accepted as a ‘fresh claim’ by the Secretary of State.
Barrister Colin Yeo analyses the case for the Free Movement Blog, and argues that it was incorrectly decided.
Oxford Human Rights Hub is to host the launch of Dr Tarunabh Khaitan’s book: A Theory of Discrimination Law. The event will take place on the 29 May at Rhodes House, Oxford. More information can be found here.
UK HRB posts
- Spiritual Injury voids Mayor’s election – Martin Downs
- Supreme Court: no excuses, UK must comply with EU Air pollution law – David Hart Q.C
- Export of live animals for slaughter: European Court rules that animal welfare law applies outside the UK – Rosalind English
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