Israel-Palestine Conflict, Surveillance of Teachers, and Pollution in Italy: the Weekly Round-Up
25 October 2023
In the news
The conflict between Israel and Hamas has continued to escalate, with some 1,400 Israelis and over 5,000 Palestinians dead, over 15,000 people injured, and over 600,000 people displaced. No end to the conflict, nor a ceasefire, is in sight. Aid entering Gaza remains far below the level required for the population size, and one-third of Gazan hospitals and nearly two-thirds of primary health care clinics have had to shut due to damage or lack of fuel. International law is being disregarded, both in the atrocious attacks by Hamas on October 7 and the subsequent retaliation by Israel, leading a group of prominent Jewish lawyers to pen an open letter in the FT (paywall) calling for restraint and an adherence to the rule of law. However, “proportionality” as a rule of international law in warfare has to be closely scrutinised when it comes to self defence. See Joshua Rozenberg’s extract from the speech given in the House of Lords by Guglielmo Verdirame, a professor of international law at the King’s College London department of war studies. The law of armed conflict is a detailed and difficult area, and has not been properly attended to by media reports following the Hamas/Israel situation. Veridrame said, regarding proportionality,
“Israel has described its war aims as the destruction of Hamas’s capability. From a legal perspective, these war aims are consistent with proportionality in the law of self-defence, given what Hamas says and does and what Hamas has done and continues to do.”
The Home Secretary has met with the Met Commissioner after the Met chose not to intervene when protestors at a pro-Palestine rally chanted “jihad”. The Met said “jihad” had numerous meanings and it believed, after consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), that no offence had been committed. No. 10 has pushed back at suggestions that more police powers are needed, citing existing powers as adequate. The Immigration Minister, however, told ITV that “Chanting ‘Jihad’ on the streets of London is completely reprehensible … It is inciting terrorist violence”. The Merriam-Webster definition of “jihad” can be found here.
Greta Thunberg has been charged with a public order offence after she was arrested while taking part in a protest against a conference in London described as “the Oscars of oil”. According to the Met, she was charged with “failing to comply with a condition imposed under section 14 of the Public Order Act”. Police had demanded protesters move from the road on to the pavement. She was one of 29 arrested during a protest trying to stop delegates entering the Energy Intelligence Forum at the InterContinental London Park Lane in Mayfair.
In other news
- Armenia’s National Assembly (parliament) has ratified Protocol No. 13, “Abolition of the Death Penalty in All Circumstances,” of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). The treaty complements Protocol No. 6 to the ECHR (abolition of the death penalty in all cases except in time of war), which has been ratified by all member states.
- The government has been monitoring the social media accounts of “dozens” of ordinary teaching staff, including teaching assistants, and is keeping files on posts that criticise education policies. This comes weeks after it was revealed that the Department for Education is keeping files monitoring the social media activity of some of the country’s leading educational experts.
- The Belgian ministry of transport has ordered an investigation into alleged criminal data protection breaches after EU motorists received ULEZ fines by an agent acting for TfL, a potential breach of GDPR. Since Brexit, UK authorities do not have access to personal data of EU citizens for non-criminal enforcement. However, drivers in several EU countries have received fines, many totalling thousands of pounds, for failing to register their Ulez-compliant cars with TfL before driving into London.
In the courts
- In the case of Locascia and Others v. Italy, the Court held that there had been several violations of the Convention. The case concerned the crisis over refuse collection, treatment and disposal in the Campania region and pollution from a landfill site. The Court found that pollution from refuse had adversely impacted the applicants’ personal well-being during the waste crisis from 1994 to 2009 and that that situation had continued as concerned the landfill site, which the Italian authorities to date have still not secured or cleaned up.
- A Hong Kong court on Tuesday dismissed a government bid in Infinger v Hong Kong Housing Authority to deny same-sex married couples the right to rent and own public housing saying that it was “discriminatory in nature” and a complete denial of such couples’ rights.
- In the case of Pająk and Others v. Poland, the Court held that there had been a violation of the right of access to a court in respect of all applicants, and a violation of the prohibition of discrimination taken in conjunction with the right to respect for private life in respect of the three applicants who had lodged complaints under those provisions. The case concerned four judges who complained about legislative amendments that had lowered the retirement age for judges from 67 to 60 for women, and to 65 for men, and had made the continuation of a judge’s duties after reaching retirement age conditional upon authorisation by the Minister of Justice and by the National Council of the Judiciary (“the NCJ”).