The UK’s role in the torture of detainees following the 9/11 attacks, is in question. Last week, the investigatory powers tribunal announced that, on grounds of public interest, they will examine complaints “of the gravest possible kind” which were brought by Mustafa al-Hawsawi against the UK’s intelligence services. Al-Hawsawi was detained in secret CIA prisons and tortured between 2003 and 2006, having been accused of aiding the September 11 attacks. It is alleged that in this time, UK intelligence “aided, abetted, encouraged, facilitated, procured and/or conspired” with the US in Al-Hawsawi’s torture. A related issue concerning the conduct of the CIA is also being heard by the Supreme Court in the case of Zubaydah v Foreign and Commonwealth Office and others next week.
On the five year anniversary of the Windrush scandal, the Black Equity Organisation announced that they are seeking judicial review over Suella Braverman for breach of the government’s Equality Act 2010 obligations. This challenges her decision to disregard key reform recommendations that were made as part of Wendy Williams’ Windrush Lessons Learned Review, 2020 which the Home Office had originally promised to implement. Over 50,000 people had signed a petition urging Suella Braverman to re-think her decision to drop key recommendations of the review, but as it stands, her decision is not to hold reconciliation events or to review and extend the powers of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration. Whether this will be held “unlawful” under the Equality Act, as the Black Equity Organisation have suggested, remains to be seen.
The Illegal Migration Bill has been presented in parliament and published. The bill has sparked extensive legal discussion over potential issues of compatibility with the European Convention of Human Rights. Indeed, the government stated their wish to proceed with the bill in the absence of being able to make a statement of convention rights compatibility under s.19(1)(a) Human Rights Act 1998. This in conjunction with Suella Braverman’s widely quoted statement that this “does not mean the provisions in the bill are incompatible with convention rights, only that there is a more than 50 per cent chance that they may not be”, has been less than reassuring and many anticipate future challenges under the ECHR. Human Rights Watch have gone as far as to state that the bill is “unworkable”.
The Home Office and Department for Education have been threatened with legal action if they fail to stop housing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in hotels on the basis that this fails to ensure crucial protection and scrutiny over children’s welfare. Meanwhile, 21 London borough councils have signed a letter to the home secretary regarding the treatment of asylum seekers and urging the government to overturn their hotel policy and establish alternative placement options.
The Public Order Bill has concluded its Report Stage in the House of Lords and is now due to return to the House of Commons. The Peers voted down several government proposed amendments including those which allowed police powers to (i) pre-emptively shut down protests before any disruption is actually caused; (ii) stop and search without suspicion; (iii) impose Serious Disruption Prevention Orders without conviction. The removal of these amendments does mitigate some of the damage that the Bill threatened to have on the Article 11 right to protest. However, not all amendments were put to a vote and concern prevails about the future impact of the bill.
The UK government has introduced a new amendment to the Social Housing Regulation Bill which enforces time limits within which landlords will have to investigate and fix instances of damp and mould. Tenants will be able to rely on these rules which will be incorporated into tenancy agreements. This new amendment is named “Awaab’s law” after two-year old Awaab Ishak who died from respiratory failure that was caused by a landlord’s failure to resolve mould issues in his home.
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