Weekly Round-Up: NHS strikes, Sudan in crisis, and US intelligence leaks
17 April 2023
In the news
The NHS faced further strike action this week, with 47,000 junior doctors participating in a four-day walkout. The Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, has said the British Medical Association’s (BMA) demand for a pay restoration to 2008 levels is ‘unreasonable’. Negotiations have stalled over the effective 35% pay rise demand. Meanwhile, on Friday the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced a new 48-hour strike set to take place 30 May. The announcement of fresh strikes and continued discontent amongst junior doctors has fuelled speculation about the possibility of synchronised action between the BMA and RCN. While there are currently no plans for coordinated strikes, the BMA has refused to rule out the possibility of a concerted effort between the unions. Relatedly, the strike ballot for consultant doctors has been delayed until the 15 May.
On Saturday, violence erupted in Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan. The country has become increasingly unstable since President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in 2019 and a coup in 2021 which replaced a fragile military-civilian government with exclusive military rule. This most recent violence is part of a long-standing rivalry between the head of the country’s armed forces, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and leader of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Gen Mohamad Hamdan Dagalo. The clashes have extended across the country and at least 56 civilians have been killed and a further 595 wounded. The World Food Programme announced three of its employees have been killed in the clashes, causing the organisation to suspend operations in the region.
Jack Teixeira, a 21-year old US airman, has been charged with leaking classified documents in a court in Boston. The leaked US intelligence revealed a detailed picture of the American assessment of the war in Ukraine, as well as Ukrainian strategies and defence capabilities. Many of the documents also contained sensitive information about US allies in the region. Mr Teixeira is a low-ranking member of the Air National Guard. In 2021, he was granted top secret security clearance and given access to other classified US government programmes. Mr Teixeira’s relative juniority and the ease with which he allegedly accessed and photographed sensitive documents has raised concerns over US intelligence practices. Mr Teixeira faces up to 15 years in prison.
In other news
- 118 people were arrested at the Grand National on Saturday. The arrests were made in connection with demonstrations held at Aintree by the climate and animal rights group, Animal Rising. Protesters blocked the M57 motorway and ran onto the racetrack, delaying the start of the race. Others attempted to climb or glue themselves to fencing around the track. The arrests were made for criminal damage and public nuisance offences.
- In China, two prominent human rights lawyers, Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi, have been sentenced to 14 and 12 years in prison respectively. Both men have been charged with state subversion and were convicted in a closed trial in the province of Shandong. They were arrested almost three years ago and are prominent figures of the New Citizens Movement, an organisation of activists calling for improved civil rights in China.
- Saiful Islam, a Bangladeshi national, has been granted leave to remain in the UK after the Home Office incorrectly alleged that he entered the UK illegally and was a convicted sex offender. Alongside their decision, the Home Office issued an apology to Mr Islam and recognised they had made serious errors by mistakenly attributing other people’s convictions to him.
In the Courts
- The High Court has granted a judicial review of plans to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) across London. The claim was brought by five councils: Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hilingdon and Surrey. The councils proposed 5 grounds of review and the High Court ruled there was sufficient evidence on two of the grounds to proceed to trial. The scheme proposed by Sadiq Khan will see the Low Emission Zone expanded to cover the entire of the Greater London area. The hearing to determine the lawfulness of the scheme is expected to take place in July.
- Meanwhile, the High Court has refused an application for judicial review of the government’s decision to grant planning permission to a new coal mine at Whitehaven in Cumbria. The action was brought by the South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC) and Friends of the Earth. SLACC argued the government committed ‘legal errors’ when assessing evidence, requiring it to be proved to an unreasonably high standard. The climate groups will contest the High Court’s ruling.
- In the case of Uvarkina and Others v. Russia 70089/12 and 40 others, the European Court of Human Rights examined 41 claims brought against the Russian Federation and found there had been a violation of Article 11 (right to freedom of assembly). The applicants claimed the Russian federation had taken disproportionate measures against them as organisers and participants of public assemblies. As the violations took place before 16 September 2022 (when the Russian Federation ceased to be party to the Convention), the Court held it had jurisdiction to examine the applications. It referred to case-law relating to freedom of assembly and proportionality of interference and concluded that the government’s interventions were not ‘necessary in a democratic society’. Other applications brought under Article 6 (right to a fair trial) were deemed inadmissible. The Russian Federation must now pay the applicants compensation relating to their successful claims.
You must log in to post a comment.