The Round-up: Domestic Violence Consultation and some Strasbourg cases

28 January 2019 by

In the News 

The Home Office has published a domestic violence consultation response and draft bill  as part of a landmark overhaul of domestic abuse laws. Theresa May promised an overhaul almost two years ago, and the bill was a key pledge in the 2017 Queen’s Speech. 

The bill introduces the first statutory definition of domestic abuse, which encompasses financial and emotional abuse as well as coercive and controlling behaviour. It would prohibit perpetrators from cross-examining their victims in court, impose polygraph tests on high-risk offenders as a condition of release, and create new powers to force perpetrators into rehabilitation programmes. Among other new protections for victims, the bill would make domestic abuse complainants automatically eligible for special measures in the criminal courts. It would also establish a new “office of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner” tasked with improving response and support for victims across public services. 

Domestic violence is a major human rights issue which can deprive women of their rights to health and physical and mental integrity, freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, and the right to life. The bill has been welcomed by some as a significant step towards combatting the issue . However, writing in the Guardian, Julie Bindel criticises the new measure as “impossible to implement” and likely to be “misued by vindictive men” and “misunderstood by those tasked with protecting women”.

The government has also launched a consultation (on extending legal protection against redundancy for pregnant women for six months after they return to work, a measure aimed at combatting maternity discrimination in the workplace.

The Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence have settled claims of mistreatment during the Cyprus emergency in the 1950s brought by members of the paramilitary group EOKA for a sum of £1million, without admission of liability. 

Writing in the Guardian, Adam Wagner describes the Supreme Court’s decision to launch a YouTube channel showing short summaries of its judgements as “a welcome step for open justice”. However, he laments that the step falls short of putting full hearings online, and calls online public access to other UK courts “quite depressing”.

In the Courts 

Case 43514/15 Catt v the United Kingdom[2019] ECHR 027: The ECHR has ruled in favour of John Catt, a 94-year-old peace activist who has been campaigning to have his personal data and details of his political activities removed from a police database for “domestic extremists”. Particular consideration was given to the fact that Catt had never been convicted of any offence and his risk of criminal violence was remote. The Court unanimously held that the retention of his data violated Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ECHR also gave judgement in a series of cases concerning allegations of Article 6 (right to a fair trial) violations in civil proceedings in Russia (https://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2019/62.html), Serbia (https://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2019/65.html), Switzerland (https://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2019/68.html), Germany (https://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2019/77.html) and Armenia (https://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2019/74.htmlhttps://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2019/73.html). 

ZS v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 75 (Admin) The High Court handed down judgement on a claim which challenged the Home Office’s failure to make arrangements to transfer asylum-seeking children from Europe under s. 67 of the Immigration Act 2016, called the ‘Dubs Amendment’. The Home Office’s implementation of the amendment has been controversial. Just 480 places were allocated for children transferred from Europe, and less than 250 children have been relocated.

ZS was one of a number of children considered for transfer from the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp in late 2016 under the new power, but he was refused on the grounds of failure to meet the criteria set by the Home Office, despite significant vulnerabilities. The High Court granted ZS a declaration that the failure by the Home Office to publish its guidance on referrals, which has prevented him from arranging a referral for transfer to the UK, was unlawful. It agreed with previous decisions in the Court of Appeal in concluding that the Home Office had breached its duty of candour through its failure to give ZS reasons for its refusal to transfer him. 

Haq, R (On the Application Of) v Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council [2019] EWHC 70 (Admin). On the same day, the High Court also refused Mr Atta Ul Haq permission to install a four-inch marble edge around his father’s grave.  Mr Haq’s request arose because, as a Barelvi Muslim, he believed that stepping on a grave is an act of desecration that must be prevented. As such, he argued, Walsall Council’s refusal to allow him to erect a perimeter breached his right to exercise his religion under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court found that the Council’s decision fell within its margin of judgement and they had acted in a way which was justified. 

On the UKRB 

Dr Lawrence McNamara has written an article analysing a new Practice Direction on Closed Judgments. 

Rosalind English summarised a recent ruling in a “right to be forgotten” case involving medical negligence by a doctor.

On Law Pod UK

Later today, in Episode 63, Rosalind English will be discussing the issue of assisted dying with Sarah Wotton, chief executive of the campaign group Dignity in Dying.

Upcoming Events 

Failing Justice: Beyond the Failed State, Monday 28 January 2019. The first event in a partnership between Lawyers for Justice in Libya and the Centre for Human Rights Law at SOAS, this inaugural lecture will explore the notion of justice in the context of what many consider to be the Libyan “failed state”. —https://www.soas.ac.uk/human-rights-law/events/28jan2019-failing-justice-beyond-the-failed-state.html

Are States accountable for modern slavery? 12 February 2019. As part of KCL’s Human Rights, Development and Global Justice Lecture Series, Dr Rosana Garciandiawill be presenting fact findings and policy recommendations generated by her research project. The project, the product of co-operation between KCL and the Centre for Policy Research at United Nations University, examining states’ responsibility for modern slavery. — https://www.kcl.ac.uk/events/event-story.aspx?id=1c1b8246-927d-4ed1-afa5-5ec72de5275d

Recent Publications

EU Policies Against Human Smuggling and their Impact on Civil Society, Sergio Carrera, Valsamis Mitsilegas, Jennifer Allsopp and Lina Vosyliute. This book critically examines the anti-smuggling policies introduced by the European Union since 2015, during the so-called ‘European refugee humanitarian crisis’, and the effects of their implementation in Italy, Greece, Hungary and the UK. Use the discount code “CV7” to get 20% off when you order here.  

What is Wrong with Human Trafficking? Critical Perspectives on the Law, ed. Rita Haverkamp, Ester Herlin-Karnell and Claes Lernestedt. Bringing together cross-legal perspectives from diverse disciplines, this volume aims to discuss and critique the legal regulation of human trafficking in national and transnational contexts. Use the discount code “CV7” to get 20% off when you order here.

Citizenship, Nation-building and Identity in the EU: The Contribution of Erasmus Student Mobility  (1st Edition), Cherry James. With Brexit looming, a major issue facing UK Higher Education is whether the UK will be able to stay in the Erasmus Programme. This book sits at the intersection of three main interrelated themes – EU citizenship, the current state of the university in Europe, and student mobility – as they play out in the context of an EU funded programme established not least to promote European identity, European consciousness and European citizenship.

Hardback, £115.00; eBook £33.29

 

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