Fighting hate with human rights

Fighting hate with human rights

RightsInfo needs your help on a new campaign to show how protecting human rights is the best way to prevent bigotry, hatred and the rise of the far right. 

We’ve all been shocked at the scenes of extremists on the march again. We need your help to fight back against these poisonous ideologies by producing a film for the International Day of Tolerance (16 November 2017), highlighting the discrimination and dehumanisation common to all genocides, and a series of other videos and features.

The crowdfunder launched this morning and we have already reached our first target of £4,000. Now we are working towards the stretch target of £9,000. Can you help?

All details here

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The robots are taking over, and the legal profession is not immune

Richard Susskind, IT adviser to the Lord Chief Justice, has spent many years looking into the future of the law. In a fascinating podcast paving the way for his new book The Future of the Professions and the updated Tomorrow’s Lawyers, he discusses with OUP’s George Miller the new world of technological advancements in the day to day management of dispute resolution. We have taken the liberty of summarising the podcast here and posting a link to the interview at the end of this post. 

Susskind finds, in comparison with the rest of the English speaking world, that the legal institutions of the UK are in some sort of denial about the march of AI. He maintains that the legal world will change more in twenty years than it has in the past two centuries. If we want to improve access to justice in our society, the answer is in technology. But the law schools have not caught up with this idea.

How do we work out what to do in the face of irreversible and inevitable change in the law? Susskind acknowledges that most people want to pay less for legal services, for something that is less complicated, less combative. It’s not that there’s less legal work to do, there’s more legal work to do, but it’s under cost pressure.

The twenties will be the big decade of change. The age of denial ended in 2016; leaders in law are no longer saying the legal world is going to go back to what it was in 2004-6. But the period from 2016 – 2020 is the area of resourcing, put bluntly, finding cheaper people to do the work by outsourcing, as manufacturing did years ago. Once we’re into the twenties, we’ve arrived in an area Susskind calls the decade of disruption. The challenge to lawyers will be to provide not only one to one services in the traditional way, but to work on systems that one day will replace us. The trusted advisor concept is not fundamental to the legal service. That was limited to the print world. The future of the professions is to imagine other ways in which these problems must be sorted out. When a client has a problem, and they say they want a trusted advisor, what they really want  is access to reliable expertise, and this is being worked on in the field of AI. Our technology is becoming more and more capable. Future clients will happily go for that even if they lose the surrounding aura or trappings of a traditional legal advisor. Continue reading

The Round-Up: Rights in war, Rights at work, Rights in marriage

Soldiers patrol in a Snatch Land Rover in Helmand, Afghanistan, in 2006

The mother of a British soldier who was killed in a roadside bomb while on duty in Iraq has received an apology from Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon. Sue Smith’s son, Pte Phillip Hewett, died while travelling on patrol in a lightly armoured “snatch” Land Rover in July 2005.

Following a settlement of the case, Sir Michael has written to Ms Smith:

“I would like to express directly to you my deepest sympathies and apologise for the delay, resulting in decisions taken at the time in bringing into service alternative protected vehicles which could have saved lives.”

What did Ms Smith allege?

The circumstances around Pte Hewett’s death have been the subject of litigation for the last 6 years.

Continue reading

NHS should consider protein-control treatment for PKU child

SB, R (on the application of NHS England) [2017] EWHC 2000 – read judgment

The High Court has quashed a decision by NHS England refusing to fund the drug Kuvan for a young boy who has a condition inhibiting his ability to digest protein.

This case involves a number of important issues, such as the allocation of resources under the NHS, the extent to which courts may interfere with healthcare choices, and the role of “rights” in these decisions, including the welfare of the child. David Hart QC discusses these issues in detail with Rosalind English in the latest podcast in our Law Pod UK series; here is a brief summary.

The seven-year-old child has severe autism and phenylketonuria (PKU), an inherited metabolic disorder. The mainstay of PKU treatment is  a strict dietary regime which restricts the intake of high protein foods.  But because of his autism, SB is unable to understand and therefore abide by these food restrictions. Consequently his doctors sought funding for the drug Kuvan (sapropterin dihydrochloride), which would allow him to get a proportion of vitamins and minerals from ordinary food. If he were to respond to the drug, the levels of protein in his blood would fall below the level at which he risked irreversible brain damage. However, his consultant acknowledged that his overall development outcome would mostly be affected by the severity of his autism rather than his PKU and that Kuvan would not be expected to significantly alter or improve his behaviour.​

The funding panel accepted that SB fulfilled the conditions for exceptional need but the lack of long-term prospects for improvement meant that his application did not pass the “clinical effectiveness” test.

Andrews J found that this decision was flawed and remitted it for reconsideration, with the caveat that the funding panel may be entitled to continue to decline treatment on different grounds.

Listen to Episode 9 of Law Pod UK, available for download on iTunes

 

New podcast on radicalisation

Just posted: Marina Wheeler QC in conversation with Rosalind English about efforts to preempt and limit the influence of extremist materials on children in the family courts. In this interview Marina also discusses the implementation of the government’s counterterrorism “Prevent” strategy against adults who are suspected of starting down a pathway towards terrorism but who have as yet committed no crime. The podcast is now available on iTunes as Episode 8 in our series.

To listen, click on the Law Pod UK banner on the top right hand of the home page.  You can access this and other free episodes of Law Pod UK, including David Hart QC on the Brexit Bill and its implications for the environment. Read more about David Hart’s concerns about the potential loss of right to sue for breach of EU law under the rule in Francovich in The Times: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/brexit-bill-will-remove-right-to-sue-government-750dhfjj3?shareToken=09ea60e3150edafe920c43e542df0351

Send me your burning human rights questions!

Calling all 15 to 24 year olds! For International Youth Day this Saturday 12 August I will be answering your burning human rights questions on video. This will be posted on RightsInfo and UK Human Rights Blog’s Facebook and Twitter.

Please submit these by 12pm tomorrow (Wed 9 August) by:

Prevent Duty Guidance withstands “clamorous” criticism – Marina Wheeler QC

R (Salman Butt) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] EWHC 1930 – read judgment

In the wake of the London and Manchester attacks, the government’s counter-terrorism strategy is increasingly in the news and under scrutiny.  Radicalisation is  a difficult concept to map on to a system like ours, which separates the definition of criminal behaviour and punishment from civil sanctions. In this week’s podcast, Marina Wheeler discusses some of the ways the law is trying to cope (Law Pod UK Episode 8, available free on iTunes). She and others from 1 Crown Office Row will be discussing this and related issues at a seminar on Monday 11 September. 

At the end of July 2017, Mr Justice Ouseley upheld one element of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy – the Prevent Duty Guidance to universities (and other further and higher education bodies) which aims at “stopping extremists from radicalising students on campuses”.  He also rejected a complaint that the work of the Home Office’s Extremism Analysis Unit (EAU), breached the Article 8 privacy rights of the claimant, Dr Salman Butt.

We posted a summary of this ruling last week. 1 Crown Office Row’s Oliver Sanders and Amelia Walker represented the Secretary of State. Paul Bowen QC and Zahra Al-Rikabi represented Dr Butt.

In 2011 the Strategy was revised to cover the journey from extremism towards terrorist-related activity (including by the far-right). This attracted criticism, examples of which were collated and presented to support the claimant’s challenge to the lawfulness of the measures.  But Ouseley J dismissed all heads of claim, observing that he was

not concerned with whether some oppose the CTSA, or regard the Prevent Duty as counter-productive or have made it so, deliberately or through misunderstanding it.

What was decisive in this case was the absence of evidence that the Prevent Duty Guidance had had a chilling effect on free speech or academic freedom, as claimed.  The Prevent Duty Guidance, under section 26 of the CTSA, only came into force in 2015.  As those who apply it gain experience and confidence, they will make better judgments. But there will always be some mistakes. One way to avoid these is to have constructive discussion about the process, informed by evidence, not drowned out by “clamorous” criticism. Continue reading