Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular potpourri of human rights news. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.
This week, in order to deport Abu Qatada, there have been mumblings of a temporary departure from the ECHR. Furthermore, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s legal services reforms lead to a strike in the North, and the recent ECHR decision to allow the UK’s ban on political advertising continues to generate discourse.
RU (Bangladesh) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 651 – Read Judgment
Further to our recent post on the deportation of foreign criminals, the matter has once again come to the attention of the Court of Appeal.This case determines how the First-tier Tribunal, the first court of call for challenges to threatened deportations, should consider and weigh the issue of deterrence when deciding whether to deport a single offender.
The court made some interesting statements about the “public interest” aspect of deporting foreign criminals, and how the logic of a deterrence system must work.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your weekly bulletin of human rights news. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.
In the news
With the Olympics over now, there’s been a bit more activity in the legal blogosphere this week. Probably the biggest news is the guidance from the Senior Presiding Judge that may stifle judicial blogging altogether – the guidance requires that a blogging judge be unidentifiable as a judge . In other news, the Free Movement blog features a series of three posts this week discussing the July 2012 changes to the Immigration Rules; locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson loses his High Court case and yet another twist in the tale of Julian Assange emerges.
In this latest episode we consider the probable attitude of the judiciary to any challenges regarding the government’s responsibility for providing sufficient PPE, the risk imposed on individuals, such as prisoners and mental health patients in detention during lockdown, their obligations under Articles 2 and 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as Article 11. How are we as a society, and the government, going to regard the question of “judicial activism” in this unprecedented situation in a post-pandemic UK?
R (Lawal) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2021), Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), Unreported, JR/626/2020 (V)— read judgment
The death of an immigration detainee, as with all prisoners, is rightly subject to legal scrutiny. This is because detainees are completely under the state’s control. Article 2 ECHR requires that the state carry out an effective investigation into all deaths in detention where there is a reasonable suspicion that the death was unnatural. A coroner is required to hold an inquest into all deaths in custody, and specifically a jury inquest where there is reason to suspect the death is violent or unnatural.
In this case, a two-judge panel of the Upper Tribunal (President of the Upper Tribunal, Mr Justice Lane, and Upper Tribunal Judge Canavan) found that the respondent Home Secretary had breached her Article 2 procedural obligations in respect of deaths in immigration detention. In particular, she had failed to ensure that crucial witness evidence was secured for use at an inquest and had failed to halt the deportation of a relevant witness.
Mr Oscar Lucky Okwurime (‘OO’) was a Nigerian national. On 12 September 2019 he was found dead in his room at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre, aged 36. The applicant in these proceedings, Ahmed Lawal, was also a Nigerian national and a good friend of the deceased. He was detained on the same wing at the time of the death.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular towering edifice of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Celia Rooney
In recent human rights news, the judicial review of a decision to re-bury Richard III in Leicester fails to find its feet before the High Court. Meanwhile, the Chagos Islanders face further disappointment in their struggle to challenge their eviction from their homeland.
Schrödinger would be rolling in his grave. The nation is abuzz with talk of a cat. A cat that is simultaneously there or not there. The speakers at yesterday’s seminar at Inner Temple hall on Strasbourg and the UK: Dialogue or Conflict, felt it incumbent to start each of their talks with a Cat Joke. But behind all this mirth about a supposedly “ridiculous” Article 8 decision, lie three serious points, some of which were touched on during the seminar though perhaps not with the detail they deserved.
First, it is not the cat that has toxified the debate about Article 8 and the vexed question of deportation. The right to respect under Article 8 is not only to family ties – however absurdly extended – but to private life itself. Article 8 also protects the right to establish and develop relationships with other human beings and the outside world and can sometimes embrace aspects of an individual’s social identity, (Niemietz v Germany (1992)). Therefore if a court wants to prevent the what it perceives as the unjust deportation of the individual before it, it has a much wider constellation of interests to turn to than the family circle, whether or not that involves companion animals. Some might even take the view that attachment to such an animal may evince a more genuine emotional tie than many that have been advanced to claim the protection of Article 8. Continue reading →
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular high water mark of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Celia Rooney.
This week, the detention of David Miranda (pictured) was declared lawful by the High Court, while, in other news, the Court of Appeal has thrown in its lot to the saga of the whole-life tariff and the Supreme Court considered the thorny issue of religion and law.
In order to address the fall in number of children placed for adoption, the government has issued guidance to local authorities whereby people wanting to adopt can no longer be turned away on the grounds of race, age or social background.
Beggs v Scottish Ministers  CSOH 98, 21st July 2015 – read judgment
The Court of Session’s first instance chamber – the Outer House – has held that the way in which the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) handled a prisoner’s correspondence breached Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The petitioner, William Beggs, was a prisoner at HMP Glenochil until March 2013 and thereafter at HMP Edinburgh. In 2001 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1999 murder of 18 year-old Barry Wallace, whose dismembered body parts Beggs disposed of in Loch Lomond. Continue reading →
The Supreme Court has found that Poole Borough Council did not owe a duty of care to two children, CN and GN, who it failed to re-house, despite the fact that they were suffering abuse from their neighbours. However, the court overruled previous authority and found that in some situations a duty of care might arise.
The Claimants, CN and GN, had been placed by the Council in
a house on an estate in Poole with their mother in May 2006. CN was aged 9 and GN
was aged 7. CN has severe mental and physical disabilities.
The family living in the neighbouring property were known by the Council to have engaged in anti-social behaviour persistently. Soon after their arrival, this family began a campaign of harassment and abuse against GN, CN and their mother which lasted for several years. This included vandalism, attacks on the family home, threats of violence, verbal abuse, and physical assaults. All measures, including eviction, anti-social behaviour orders, of sentences of imprisonment, etc. had failed to stop the abuse. Even a Home Office-commissioned independent report criticised the police and of the council’s failure to make adequate use of powers available under anti-social behaviour legislation.
UK charity Migrants Rights Net have been granted permission to proceed with their challenge to the data-sharing agreement between the Home Office, the Department of Health and NHS Digital. The agreement has meant that the Home Office may require the NHS to hand over patients’ personal non-clinical information, such as last known address, for immigration enforcement purposes.
Currently, the Home Office makes thousands of requests per year, of which only around 3% are refused. A joint response from Home Office and health ministers suggested that opponents of the agreement had downplayed the need for immigration enforcement, and that it was reasonable to expect government officers to exercise their powers to share this kind of data, which ‘lies at the lower end of the privacy spectrum.’ However, critics of the agreement argue that it compromises the fundamental principle of patient confidentiality, fails to consider the public interest, and results in a discrepancy in operating standards between NHS Digital and the rest of the NHS. The good news for Migrants Rights Net was twofold: the challenge will proceed to a full hearing with a cost-capping order of £15,000.
I asked in a recent post whether journalists need to attend court hearings to report accurately. The post arose from judgment in a family court case involving a mother’s abuse of her baby. The judge took the unusual step of criticising the Sunday Telegraph’s Christopher Booker’s reporting, which he called “unbalanced, inaccurate and just plain wrong“. That criticism was then supported by the most senior family judge in a different judgment.
Christopher Booker has now responded to my post, although somewhat obliquely. He writes:
I was again attacked last week by a prominent legal blogger, for reporting on cases where the system appears to be going tragically wrong, without having sat for days in court to hear “both sides of the story”.
IR (Sri Lanka) & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 704 – Read Judgment
The Court of Appeal has rejected an argument that Article 8 of the European Convention of Rights (ECHR), the right to private and family life, requires that those challenging deportation and exclusion decisions on grounds of national security in proceedings before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) have to be given sufficient disclosure of the case against them to enable them to effectively instruct the special advocate representing their interests.
In his book “The Rule of Law”, the late Lord Tom Bingham enumerated a number of sub-rules to give content to that cardinal, oft-cited but rather vague constitutional principle. Unsurprisingly, one such sub-rule was that adjudicative procedures provided by the state should be fair, an idea which found expression in documents as old Magna Carta. In turn, this entails that, as Lord Mustill stated in In re D (Minors) (Adoption Reports: Confidentiality)  AC 593, “each party to a judicial process should have an opportunity to answer by evidence and argument any adverse material which the tribunal make take into account when forming its opinion”.
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