By: Guest Contributor


Rights in a time of quarantine – an extended look by Niall Coghlan

17 March 2020 by

Quarantines and lockdowns are sweeping Europe: ItalyFranceSpain. Through them, states seek to contain Covid-19 and so save lives. It is difficult to imagine higher stakes from a human rights perspective: mass interferences with whole populations’ liberties on one side; the very weighty public interest in protecting lives on the other; and all this under the shadow of uncertainty and disorder. What, if anything, do human rights have to say?

To begin sketching an answer to this complex question, this post analyses the situation in the European state furthest down this path: Italy. After outlining the Italian measures (I), it argues that Italy’s mass restrictions on internal movement are unlikely to violate the right to free movement but pose problems in respect of the right to liberty (II). I conclude by summarising the tangle of other rights issues those measures raise and making a tentative reflection on the currently limited role of human rights law (III).

Before beginning, I should note that analysing measures’ human rights compliance in abstracto is difficult and slightly artificial: a great deal turns on how measures are implemented in practice and particular individuals’ circumstances. Moreover, my analysis is limited to the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’), and I do not profess expertise in Italian law (which is proving complex to interpret). The aim of this post is therefore to start, not end, debate about human rights’ role as these measures begin to spread across Europe.


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Lack of gender neutral option on passport forms: no breach of human rights –

12 March 2020 by

R (on the application of Christie Elan-Cane) v Secretary of State for the Home Department with Human Rights Watch intervening [2020] EWCA Civ 363 – read judgment

When we apply for a passport, we are generally asked to state on the form whether we are a man or a woman, and this is generally reflected in our passports. However, in our modern day and age, there are now more than two genders – some people can choose to define as gender neutral, essentially meaning that they don’t like to describe themselves using the normal terms of “man” or “woman”. MX Elan-Cane is one of those individuals. They sued the Home Office because there was no “X” (as in, no gender neutral) option on the passport form as it was a breach of their Human Rights. The High Court said that yes, this engaged Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention (the right to private and family life), but the current passport policy did not breach that right. The Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court, both that this engaged Article 8, but that the rights to a private life were not breached here. 


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The Forstater Employment Tribunal judgment: a critical appraisal in light of Miller – Karon Monaghan QC

27 February 2020 by

This article was  first published here on the UK Labour Law Blog on 19th February 2020 and is reproduced with the author’s kind permission.

There are several problems with the judgment in Forstater v CGD Europe and Ors (case no 2200909/2019) (“Forstater”). Some of these have been highlighted by Amir Paz-Fuch in his recent analysis on this blog, ‘Principles into Practice: Protecting Offensive Beliefs in the Workplace’. In this blog post, I look more at the specific findings of the Employment Tribunal and whether they are sustainable. I shall consider this issue in light, in particular, of the holdings of the High Court in R (Miller) v College of Policing and A’or[2020] EWHC 225 (Admin).

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Image by Mizter_X94 from Pixabay 

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The importance of patents in biotechnology – John Butcher

21 February 2020 by

The following article comes from a student of IP law at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Although somewhat outside the range of subjects usually covered by UKHRB I feel it is sufficiently important to keep up to date with this difficult and fast moving area, as law tries to keep pace with technological developments in this field. So here we have John Butcher’s survey of the field.

Inventors come from many different disciplines and fields of study. Arguably one of the most important are biotechnicians whose inventions dramatically help to improve our standards of living. From healing the body of diseases to restoring the environment, biotechnology pervades all aspects of life. 

While that sounds really nice, you might be wondering what exactly falls under biotechnology?

What is Biotechnology?

Biotechnology in the United Kingdom is the industry of organisms that manufacture commercial products. Interestingly, it can be quite controversial at times i.e. stem cells and gene cloning. Despite this, biotechnology is integral to advancements in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry. 

Currently, most industrial biotechnological expenditure in the UK is in the field of healthcare. Consequently, the UK is the leader in Europe in the development of biopharmaceuticals – by quite a lead.


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Failure to protect women from domestic violence is a breach of Article 3 of the Convention – Elliot Gold

19 February 2020 by

The European Court of Human Rights continues to make it clear that a failure by member states to protect people from domestic violence is likely to cross the high hurdle of the prohibition on degrading and inhumane treatment under Article 3.” It isn’t all about women. In the latest decision, Affaire Buturuga v Romania (App No. 56867/15), (available only in French) the Court found a breach of articles 3 and 8 in respect of a failure to investigate adequately and/or take action on complaints of domestic violence and awarded €10,000 general damages.   


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Human Rights in the Supreme Court in 2020 – Lewis Graham

12 February 2020 by

It is undeniable that the Human Rights Act has had a significant impact on the work of the Supreme Court. Just under a quarter (14 of 61) of cases decided during the Court’s 2018-19 term featured a determination on at least one issue relating to the Act or the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK Supreme Court is soon to begin Hilary Term 2020, and whilst the docket of cases it is set to hear this term seems to largely steer clear of controversial human rights issues we can nonetheless be confident that 2020 will feature its usual share of big human rights cases. What follows is a short preview of some of the more interesting and controversial of those cases, all of which the Court is due to hand down at some point this year. 

  1. Article 3 and deportation

In the case of AM (Zimbabwe) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (on appeal from the Court of Appeal) the Court will have an opportunity to re-assess its approach to how Article 3 should apply in deportation cases.

It is well established that, under Article 3 ECHR, the United Kingdom cannot deport an individual to a country where, there is a “real risk” of them being subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. This has been extended to include situations where the deportee would be placed in circumstances which might occasion a significant deterioration of health, including where they lack access to life-saving treatment

The question in this case is whether Article 3 prohibits deportation in AM’s situation. He is an HIV-positive individual, whose condition for many years was being managed by anti-retroviral drugs in the UK. If deported to Zimbabwe, he would be very unlikely to have access to the same treatment. Although some medical options would be available to him, they would likely be significantly less effective for the management of his condition. 

Previous authorities had restricted the application of Article 3 to ‘deathbed’ cases only, where the deportee would likely die quickly following their removal from the country.


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Vavilov – a restatement of reasonableness – Adrienne Copithorne (2)

6 February 2020 by

In the previous post under this topic, I referred to Mr Justice Binnie’s proposal for the exercise of the standard of reasonableness review in the 2007 case of Dunsmuir v New Brunswick. This would eventually resurface in Vavilov, where the majority of the Supreme Court of Canada held that the starting point should be a presumption that the reasonableness standard applied. In the interim, there had been much academic, practitioner and judicial commentary on the lack of clarity and consistency in the application of the principles espoused by the majority in Dunsmuir in subsequent cases and on the difficulty in applying such principles in claims. Members of the Supreme Court also expressed concerns in subsequent cases, for example, Abella J in Wilson v Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd 2016 SCC 29. The majority in Vavilov explicitly refers to such criticism coming from the judiciary and academics but also from litigants before the Court and organizations representing Canadians who are affected by administrative decisions. As the Court stated,

These are not light critiques or theoretical challenges. They go to the core of the coherence of our administrative law jurisprudence and to the practical implications of this lack of coherence.

The Court also referred to concerns that the reasonableness standard was sometimes perceived as “advancing a two-tiered justice system in which those subject to administrative decisions are entitled only to an outcome somewhere between “good enough” and “not quite wrong”.


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The Standard of Reasonableness in Canadian and UK Judicial Review (1) – Adrienne Copithorne

4 February 2020 by

Stratas JA has said, “Administrative law matters”. Every individual’s life is affected, in some cases profoundly, by administrative decisions. Judicial oversight of administrative decisions engages questions of importance and sensitivity in democracies where separation of powers is an intrinsic principle. In the view of the Supreme Court of Canada, the act of judicial review by a court is a constitutional function that ensures executive power is exercised according to the rule of law. At the same time, review must be exercised without undermining the democratic legitimacy of the executive or the intention of the legislature. The standards applied by courts to determining the lawfulness of administrative decisions are therefore of central importance to the proper functioning of our country.

Disclaimer here, to apply to this and the next post. The views expressed here are purely in a personal capacity, as I am now counsel with the UK charity, Justice.

This and the following post will consider what a ‘reasonableness’ standard of review means in the contexts of Canadian and UK administrative law. The standard has recently been given new emphasis by the handing down of the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada in Vavilov [2019] SCC 65 in which the court restated its conception of reasonableness and how a decision should be analysed in light of that standard.

In the UK, a series of cases has revealed that jurisdiction’s Supreme Court grappling with reasonableness primarily in its relationship with the other standard of review, proportionality. As this essay will show, both Canadian and UK courts have struggled ever since the advent of judicial oversight of administrative decisions to formulate a standard of reasonableness which ensures unlawful decisions do not stand but does not allow the court to remake the decision that is the proper remit of the administrator.


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Seeing through Myanmar’s fog: ICJ instigates provisional measures

31 January 2020 by

In this article, Uzay Yasar Aysev and Wayne Jordash QC of Global Rights Compliance analyse the two cases which have been brought in the international courts relating to the persecution of the Rohingya people by the Myanmar authorities.

Readers may want to read the first article about this topic published on the Blog here.

To read more about Global Rights Compliance’s work with the Rohingya, please see: https://www.globalrightscompliance.com/en/projects/the-rohingya-accountability-project.

rohingya
The International Court of Justice

On 11 November 2019, Republic of The Gambia initiated a case against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice (‘ICJ’ or the ‘Court’), alleging that the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people during “clearance operations” from around October 2016 violated the Genocide Convention (‘Convention’).

In its application, The Gambia requested the Court to instate six provisional measures. Provisional measures are ordered to safeguard the relevant, plausible rights of the Parties that risk being extinguished before the Court determines the merits of the case (LaGrand Case, para. 102). The Gambia contended that the Rohingya were facing threats to their existence and had to be protected from Myanmar’s genocidal intent.

On 23 January 2020, the Court issued an Order granting four of the six provisional measures requested. Myanmar was ordered to:

  1. Take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of genocide against the Rohingya;
  2. Ensure that its military, any irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it, any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control direction or influence, do not commit, attempt or conspire to commit genocide, or incite or be complicit in the commission of genocide against the Rohingya;
  3. Take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of genocide; and
  4. Submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to the provisional measures order within four months and thereafter every six months, until the Court renders a final decision.

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Towards international recognition of the genocide of the Rohingya?

6 January 2020 by

In this article, Ruby Axelson and Wayne Jordash QC (with research assistance from Prachiti Venkatraman and Shireen Meghe) of Global Rights Compliance analyse the two cases which have been brought in the international courts relating to the persecution of the Rohingya people by the Myanmar authorities. To read more about Global Rights Compliance’s work with the Rohingya, please see: https://www.globalrightscompliance.com/en/projects/the-rohingya-accountability-project.

Rohingya refugees in refugee camp in Bangladesh, 2017 (source: Wikipedia)

Known as the world’s most persecuted ethnic group, the Rohingya have faced persecution and deprivation of their fundamental rights within Myanmar for decades. Effectively denied citizenship under the 1982 Citizenship Law, the Rohingya are one of the world’s largest stateless populations.

Following violent attacks in 2016 and 2017, there are now an estimated 909,000 Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Undoubtedly, the Rohingya are the victims of a shocking array of international crimes, suffering ethnic cleansing, killings, sexual and gender-based violence, torture, forced starvation, enslavement, destruction of property, the arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and much more.

Once suffering in relative international silence, there is now growing recognition of their brutalisation, even if the precise legal categorisation may be debated. Indeed, building on the 2018 findings of the United Nation (‘UN’) Human Rights Council’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (‘FFM’) that there are reasonable grounds to conclude that “factors allowing the inference of genocidal intent are present” (para. 1441), there is growing international recognition that the apparent mass ethnic cleansing from Myanmar to Bangladesh, particularly in 2017, had an even darker purpose – the destruction of part or all of their people. Indeed, it is this debate that now promises some much needed attention.


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Children Act 1989 and a child’s rights thirty years later

6 November 2019 by

Child rights in 2019

The Children Act 1989 (CA 1989) received Royal Assent on 23 November 1989 (30 years ago); and it was in force from October 1991. It was a major reform of children law which required everyone – parents, children (when of ‘understanding’), judges, social workers, health professionals and lawyers – to learn a new set of legal concepts and attitudes. But what about children’s rights? And what has happened to the law’s regard for those rights since 1989?

The Act required courts to consider a child’s ‘wishes and feelings’ when that child’s welfare was in issue in a court. In parallel with this, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 Art 12.1 – though not formally part of the Act – says:

States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.


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Whistleblowing judges: protected by human rights?

18 October 2019 by

Gilham (Appellant) v Ministry of Justice (Respondent) [2019] UKSC 44 – read judgment

The UK Supreme Court has unanimously granted an appeal by a district judge against the Court of Appeal’s decision that she did not qualify as a “worker” under the Employment Rights Act 1996 (the “1996 Act”), and therefore could not benefit from the whistleblowing protections it conferred.

In reaching its judgment, the Court held that the failure to extend those whistleblowing protections to judges amounted to a violation of the appellant’s right under Article 14 ECHR not to be discriminated against in her enjoyment of the Convention rights (in this case, her right to freedom of expression under Article 10 ECHR).


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A Climate of change? Taking stock of the Urgenda case with a Supreme Court ruling on the horizon

8 October 2019 by

Where one looks across the piste of emergent significant climate litigation – that is, important cases in courts around the world that deal significantly with issues related to climate change – the case of State of Netherlands v. Urgenda (hereafter ‘Urgenda’looms as large as most, if not any, court ruling to date.

This case, brought by the eponymous Dutch NGO Urgenda, has been rightly held up by many lawyers, commentators and environmental activists concerned to protect our planet from the harmful impacts of anthropogenic climate change as an important testament to the capacity for human rights law to assist in grappling meaningfully with hard problems posed by climate change in the courts. 

Here, The Hague Court of Appeal ruled in October 2018 that the State was required to adjust the Netherlands’ national greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2020 upward from 20% to 25% (measured on 1990 emissions levels). This example of national courts ordering a state to adopt a more stringent climate mitigation target is unprecedented at the present time.

In addition to being of particular interest to human rights lawyers and legal analysts, including in these pages where key elements of the ruling have been summarised and discussed by David Hart QC, the broader ripple-effects of the case have become a motivating force in the wider context of climate activism, including in relation to some of the climate protests that have been springing up lately around the world.


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No Deal Brexit risks reversing human rights progress in extradition law

28 August 2019 by

The UK Government’s vow to leave the European Union “whatever the circumstances” on the 31st October has left the UK hurtling towards a no-deal Brexit this Halloween, but what does this mean for the rights of people subject to future extradition between the UK and the EU?

For the last 15 years, extradition between EU states has functioned under the European Arrest Warrant (EAW). The EAW is a fast track extradition measure that works on the basis of mutual recognition — the principle that the decision of a court in one Member State is carried out by the courts in another Member State.

Despite appearances in the negotiations, this is one area where the UK and the EU seem to agree on the need for continued close cooperation that largely mirrors current arrangements — the Political Declaration agreed by the UK and the EU envisaged ‘efficient and expeditious’ extradition arrangements.


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Costs budgeting is not inevitable – Charlie Cory-Wright QC

26 August 2019 by

Assuming that from now on you will always have to budget your costs? Maybe, but not necessarily…

Introduction

Generally speaking, we lawyers dislike procedural change. While we may well understand that a particular change is necessary and we will certainly recognise that we need to adapt to it when it comes, such changes nonetheless tend to make us feel ignorant and highly uncomfortable. We have to treat any new procedural regime as a known unknown, which presents pitfalls for the unwary, at least until we become familiar with it. And in the meantime, a culture of half-knowledge develops, an uncertain and dangerous combination of a little learning, anecdote, and false assumptions. This very often leads to negative over-simplification. 

The typical common lawyer’s attitude to costs budgeting is a good example of this. There will be many litigators who are fully familiar with the new regime, who, maybe on a weekly basis, have to provide their own draft budgets (and to try to agree those set by their opponents), and therefore know their way around and navigate it quite happily. However, for many of the rest of us, the budgeting regime still, even now, feels like an inflexible and inscrutable monolith for which we have to relearn all we know every time we approach it.


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Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption ALBA Allison Bailey Al Qaeda animal rights anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners climate change clinical negligence Coercion common law confidentiality consent conservation constitution contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus Coroners costs Court of Protection crime Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention diplomatic immunity disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of candour duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Employment Law Employment Tribunal Environment Equality Act Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Family Fertility FGM Finance football foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza gender genetics Germany Google Grenfell Health high court HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests international law internet Inuit Iran Iraq Ireland Islam Israel Italy IVF Japan Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid legality Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage Maya Forstater mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries public law rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo Right to assembly right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice sexual offence sexual orientation Sikhism Smoking social media South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine UK Supreme Court unduly harsh USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe
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