Round Up- The Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry reports, Equal Pay, and waiving Article 6

13 January 2020 by

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law

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In the News:

ICCSA, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, published its report into protecting children who live outside the UK.

It described how there has been “extensive” sexual abuse of children by British nationals whilst abroad. Between 2013 – 2017, 361 UK nationals requested consular assistance between 2013 – 2017 for being arrested for child sex offences. The inquiry suggested this was likely to be a small proportion of offenders committing crimes abroad.

The report highlights the case of Gary Glitter, who was able to travel abroad and abuse vulnerable children even after he had been convicted. Glitter was later sentenced again for abusing two girls, aged 10 and 11, in Vietnam.

ICCSA concluded that travel bans should be imposed more frequently to prevent this behaviour. It noted that Australia bans registered sex offenders from travelling overseas. ICCSA’s report also argued that the burden of proof for imposing travel bans should be reduced, saying that the need for evidence is often overstated by courts and the police.

The inquiry described the global exploitation of children as worth an estimated £27.7 billion, with developing countries being particularly at risk.

The full report can be read here. More from the BBC here.

In Other News….

  • It emerged that counter-terrorism police published a guide describing Extinction Rebellion as an “extreme ideology”. The group, which campaigns to prevent climate change, condemned their inclusion. The guide provided advice aimed at preventing the radicalisation of young people. It was given to government bodies and police forces, and aims to assist in determining whether individuals should be referred to the Prevent programme. The document described the group as “encouraging protest and civil disobedience to pressure governments to take action on climate change and species extinction”. The police have since admitted that including the group was an “error of judgment”. Extinction Rebellion was listed alongside organisations such as National Action. The Guardian’s findings add to mounting criticism of the Prevent programme, which some have argued stifles free speech. (More from the Guardian here)
  • Samira Ahmed, the TV presenter and journalist, won her equal pay claim against the BBC. She used the Equal Pay Act 1970, which prevents discrimination at work, to argue that she was owed nearly £700,000. Ms Ahmed’s case relied heavily on a comparison with Jeremy Vine, another presenter. She pointed out that Mr Vine was paid £3,000 per episode of Points of View, whilst she was paid £440 for each episode of a virtually identical programme called Newswatch. The BBC had argued that Mr Vine’s show was different because it had a lighter tone, requiring a cheeky employee who could deliver the script with humour. It also said that previous presenters of the two programmes were paid along similar lines. The employment tribunal strongly rejected this response. The BBC now faces considerable pressure to settle other outstanding equal pay claims, and the Telegraph reports that the corporation has already made some offers. (More from the Telegraph here).

In the Courts:

As the courts have not been sitting, this post focuses on judgments from the European Court of Human Rights (“ECtHR”).

  • Case Of Ciupercescu V. Romania (No. 3): The ECtHR found that Article 3 of the Convention had been breached by the prison conditions a Romanian national was placed in. Article 3 states “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. The applicant complained of overcrowding, limited access to cold and warm running water, bedbug and cockroach infestations in his cell, a lack of adequate ventilation and lighting, and a lack of heating for one month. The court relied on the earlier pilot case of Rezmiveș and Others v. Romania, in which it had previously found a violation in respect of similar issues. It found no reason to depart from that judgment, so concluded there had been a breach of Article 3. However, it decided that exposing an asthmatic to second-hand smoke (here, in a prison vehicle) does not amount to a breach of Article 3. The prisoner’s inability to communicate with his wife did not amount to a breach of Article 8 (the right to private and family life). Article 8 does not guarantee prisoners the right to communicate with the outside world by way of online devices, particularly where there are other adequate facilities for contact. The court awarded 3,000 euros in non-pecuniary damage.
  • Case Of Us V. Ukraine: The ECtHR ruled that Article 5 had been breached by Ukraine. The applicant complained that his detention at a police station had not been documented and that he had been subject to ill-treatment. The court found that there had been a failure to make an arrest record, resulting in a grave violation of Article 5. The absence of an arrest record also indicated that none of the suspect’s procedural rights had been explained to him. Without such an explanation, he could not benefit from them. Delaying the creation of an arrest record until the next day was a “regrettable example” of poor administrative practice and there was no reasonable explanation for this behaviour. The court awarded the applicant 5,000 euros in non-pecuniary damage.
  • Case Of Asimionese V. The Republic Of Moldova: The applicant submitted that Article 6 (the right to a fair trial) had been breached by unfair criminal proceedings against him. His main complaints were (a) that the Court of Appeal had reinterpreted the statements given by 20 witnesses without hearing from them, and (b) that he had not been given the chance to call the witnesses. The ECtHR reiterated that when applying Article 6, one must look at the entirety of the proceedings as a whole in the context of the domestic legal order. Whilst Article 6 does not prevent individuals from waiving their entitlement to a fair trial, they must do so freely and unequivocally. In the present case, the mere fact that the applicant had not requested a new hearing of the witnesses did not mean he had waived his rights. The Chișinău Court of Appeal had not provided any reason for interpreting the witness statements differently. The ECtHR refused to award exemplary damages, but awarded 2,000 euros for non-pecuniary damage.

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