Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law
In the News:
Over 100 female detainees have gone on hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre.
The women began their strike on the 21st February, over “inhuman” conditions, indefinite detentions, and a perceived failure to address their medical needs. The UK is the only European state that does not put a time limit on how long detainees can be held.
This week, the strikers were given a letter from the Home Office warning their actions may speed up their deportation. Labour criticised the letter, but Caroline Nokes, the Immigration Minister, said the letter was part of official Home Officer guidance and was published last November on its website.
A number of parties have commented on the issue. A 2017 report on the facility found significant improvements since its assessment in 2015, which found that the centre was “failing to meet the needs of the most vulnerable women”.
Brandon Lewis, the Conservative party chairman, stated on Question Time that there are different processes for asylum seekers, refugees, and those in the UK illegally. He also argued refugees were not held in detention centres and that the only people detained were those who were in the UK illegally. The Home Office states it detains people at Yarl’s Wood for the “minimum time possible”.
In Other News….
- International Women’s Day took place this week. A number of Spanish women went on strike to highlight sexism and the gender pay gap, McDonald’s tribute sparked debate about ‘Mcfeminism’, and Theresa May accused Jeremy Corbyn of mansplaining during PMQ’s. The Law Society released the largest international survey of women in the law, which found progress was being made but unconscious bias is all too prevalent. You can read a summary of its findings here.
- The ex-Russian agent Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, were poisoned in Salisbury earlier this week. Military personnel have been decontaminating the area, including ambulances which may have been affected. A police officer was also committed to hospital. The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, described the attack as ‘outrageous’. The authorities have said there is no evidence of a wide public health risk (the BBC reports).
In the Courts:
- Surico v Public Prosecutor of the Public Prosecuting Office of Bari, Italy: The Administrative Court has ruled that a man found guilty of sexual offences against a minor could be extradited to Italy, despite his medical conditions. They upheld the trial judge’s decision that it was not unjust or oppressive to extradite Mr Surico even taking into account his physical and mental health (following s.25 of the Extradition Act 2003). The appellant’s physical conditions were either controlled, or it could be assumed Italy would be able to provide appropriate treatment for them. Whilst some deterioration in the appellant’s medical condition was possible, it did not reach the threshold of oppression. The Court also held that although the European Arrest Warrant was only issued in October 2016, the appellant had known of his sentence since January 2012. Accordingly, the appellant was not burdened with a false sense of security. Whilst some hardship would inevitably be caused by the extradition, it did not meet the threshold of causing oppression. Finally, the Court upheld the trial judge’s conclusion that it would not be disproportionate under Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights to extradite the appellant.
- Daly, R (on the application of) v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis & Anor: The Administrative Court has also dismissed an application for judicial review of the granting of a search warrant. The application concerned an alleged mistake of fact, namely that the thermal imaging of the claimant’s property had been misinterpreted. Mistake of fact resulting in unfairness is a ground for judicial review. The defendants pointed out that such an error of fact must involve a mistake which is uncontentious and objectively verifiable. They further submitted that this criterion was not satisfied in this case, because the police disputed the alleged mistake. In addition, Sir Brian Leveson and Males J held that a subsequently established material error cannot invalidate a warrant properly obtained. To allow such action would circumvent the need for proof of malice, which is normally required when the police act pursuant to a warrant properly obtained. Whilst this requirement of malice makes it difficult for a claimant to recover damages, it is what the law requires. Finally, the submission that there was malice in this case was rejected on the facts. The police clearly presented reasonable grounds to the district judge who properly granted the warrant.
- BS, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department: The Secretary of State failed to act with reasonable diligence when removing an Indian national, resulting in a period of unlawful detention. The claimant had been identified as a victim of torture and sexual abuse, creating a presumption of release. The Deputy High Court Judge found that the Secretary of State was justified in taking the view that the risk of absconding outweighed the risk of harm. However it should have become apparent to the Secretary of State that removal was unlikely to take place during a reasonable timeframe, due to checks needed on the claimant.
On the UKHRB
Jo Moore has written an post on R (QSA and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Dept and Secretary of State for Justice, in which the High Court ruled that women forced into prostitution as teenagers will no longer have to disclose related convictions to potential employers.
Jonathan Metzer, the Commissioning Editor of this blog, has recorded a podcast with Rosalind English discussing the right of appeal against refusal of a residence card under the EU immigration rules. And Josh Newmark posted on demolitions in the West Bank.
- The rule of law in and after the Supreme Court’s UNISON judgment: Policy Exchange, Wednesday 14th Featuring Sir Stephen Laws, Sir John Laws, Lord Faulks QC and Professor Anne Davies.
- Human dignity: An Illusory Limit to the Evolutive Interpretation of ECHR?: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Thursday 15th
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