Weekly Round-Up: Worldwide Protests, Climate Litigation and Human Rights in the Premier League
3 April 2023
In the news
The Illegal Migration Bill has drawn a wide range of criticism this week, including from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Council of Europe and the Weiner Holocaust Library, after MPs rejected all proposed amendments during a five-hour debate last Monday. The UNHRC told the Joint Committee on Human Rights that the Bill risks causing a ‘domino effect’ on the international refugee system during a series of damning evidence hearings on Wednesday – the same day the Council of Europe’s group of experts on action against trafficking in human beings (Greta) expressed their concern that the Bill does not comply with the Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. The Weiner Holocaust Library, along with the Association of Jewish Refugees, have issued a joint statement condemning the Bill and the use of language by ministers, such as ‘invasion’, when referring to the arrival of small boats. More broadly, over 60 NGO’s, MPs and academics have now written to the PM urging him to withdraw the Bill, citing the various violations of international law, in the same week that Sunak defended the potential use of force against children to enforce detention and deportation.
Millions of people around the world have taken to the streets in protest this week, including in France, Portugal, and Israel. In France, protests have been escalating for weeks over President Macron’s decision to push ahead with pension reform and raise the state pension age to 64. The French government has bypassed the a parliamentary vote on the reform using special constitutional powers and Macron survived a no-confidence vote in recent weeks, ahead of the Conseil constitutionnel decision later this month on whether the reform is lawful. In Israel, the country’s mass protests continued over the weekend, causing widespread disruption as tens of thousands protest in Tel Aviv alone. The protests began in response to now-postponed judicial reforms which gave the government almost complete power over who is appointed to the courts and have quickly escalated, with PM Netanyahu suggesting that a civil war was possible. In Portugal, thousands have been protesting over the housing and cost of living crisis, while the often-violent cost of living and election protests in Kenya have been called off by opposition leader Odinga. Climate protestors are also busy lately, both in the Scottish Parliament and at the Grand National.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct has released a statement confirming that they have concluded their investigation into the fatal shooting of unarmed Chris Kaba by a Metropolitan Police Service officer on 5th September 2022 and have referred their evidence file to the CPS. The 24 year-old rapper and father-to-be was killed by a single shot fired through the windscreen of his car following a pursuit in Streatham, London – even though Mr Kaba was not a suspect, and no firearm was ever recovered from his vehicle. The decision whether to charge the officer will now be taken by the CPS in due course.
In other news
- Employment law experts have said that the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill will make the UK an “international outlier” and would place us “well outside the mainstream of industrial relations in comparable countries”. The experts, including leading professors from UK universities such as King’s College London and the University of Bristol, specifically warn of the risk of the “unfettered discretion” afforded to ministers in setting the minimum service levels, i.e., in allowing a strike or not.
- Controversial online influencers Andrew and Tristan Tate have been released from a Romanian jail and placed under house arrest following their appeal to the Court of Appeals in Bucharest. The brothers, who have yet to be charged, were detained on 29th December last year and had their 30-day detention extended three times, until the Court of Appeals quashed the third extension and replaced it with house arrest. They maintain that there is no evidence of the allegations of human trafficking, rape and organised crime against them, and that their detention is politically motivated.
- Significant changes are to be made to the rules relating to the ownership of Premier League clubs, with human rights violations and hate crimes set to become some of the many additions to the “disqualifying events” that can render someone unable to be an owner or director of a club. This comes after the high-profile Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United FC back in October last year.
In the courts
- Prince Harry and others have been in the High Court for a four-day preliminary hearing in their claim against Associated Newspapers over alleged phone-tapping and other privacy violations. The allegations against the media giant include illegally intercepting voicemail messages, listening into live landline calls, and obtaining private information by deception between 1993 to 2018.
- The European Court of Human Rights heard its first ever climate case on Wednesday after thousands of Swiss women – the ‘Club of Climate Seniors’ – brought a claim alleging that the steps taken by Switzerland to combat climate change were inadequate and did not respect their rights under Articles 2 and 8 of the Convention because the increase in temperature will be particularly detrimental to them. Domestic courts have twice ruled in the Swiss government’s favour over the course of a six-year legal battle and the government maintains that the case is inadmissible.
- A New York jury has voted to indict former president Donald Trump on over thirty counts of business fraud and he is expected to voluntarily surrender and appear in court on Tuesday (April 4th). At the same time, Trump is also facing a Department of Justice investigation for obstruction of justice due to the classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago property.
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