Members of the UK Bill of Rights Commission, an independent body asked by the government to investigate the case for a UK Bill of Rights, has been giving evidence to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee (transcripts here: part 1, part 2). The sessions give an interesting if predictable insight into the likely discussions between the Commission’s members.
The group has made slow progress so far, and little is known about how it will operate, save that any proposed bill must “incorporate.. and build.. on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights“. It is under no great time pressure, having been asked to report by the end of 2012. It is comprised of 9 people, mostly Queen’s Counsel and not all of whom are human rights experts. It also has a website, which provides little information beyond the dates of meetings. Given the importance of the process and lack of information so far, the evidence sessions are of interest.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your weekly summary 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
It’s been another big week for human rights, with the draft Brighton Declaration again sparking insightful discussion from a range of sources. Also in the news, concerns seem to be rising over open justice, with secret evidence, the Justice and Security Green Paper and access to court materials all raising concerns in the media. To round off the week, there’s the CPS’s new guidance on prosecution for criminal offences committed during public protests, a roundup of important cases to look out for in the upcoming weeks, and the mandatory (for myself, anyway) update on the Abu Qatada saga.
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 previous roundups here.
by Daniel Isenberg
A relatively quiet news-week in the world of human rights, with judges and politicians having (in some cases) a well-earned break. Same-sex marriage managed to remain in the headlines with High Court Judge, Sir Paul Coleridge, saying it was a ‘minority issue’. Looking back over the past few weeks there has been some recent interesting commentary on the European Court of Human Rights’ decision against Macedonia; as well as the domestic High Court’s ruling on Scientology. Finally, a pair of articles on the historical and recent relationship between Jews and human rights.
You may also notice that the UK Human Rights Blog has a slightly refreshed design – please do send us your comments if you have any. If you are looking for some new year’s reading, why not try:
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza 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 Sarina Kidd.
This week, a group of MPs investigating drones were advised that large amounts of GCHQ surveillance is likely to be illegal, and the Conservatives continued their push for a Bill of Rights. Meanwhile, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights argued that anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe.
But it would be too narrow to characterise the case as being about trans rights only. At its core, it concerns the role of the police in responding to reports of hate incidents which do not amount to criminal behaviour. As such, the findings of Julian Knowles J have implications that extend beyond trans rights, impacting on how police should respond to reports of racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of discrimination that fall short of criminality. Clearly, the case raises extremely important questions. The Claimant already has permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal and a leapfrog certificate, allowing him to go directly to the Supreme Court to ask for permission to appeal there.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular full brass band of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Post by Sarina Kidd, edited and links compiled by Adam Wagner.
This week, Lord Neuberger implied that even if the Human Rights Act were to be abolished, the court would continue to uphold human rights, perhaps foreshadowing the Supreme Court’s decision in Osborn. Meanwhile, the controversial Immigration Bill now has its overarching documents available, LSE are looking to create a written constitution and the Daily Mail are in trouble, again.
It has been widely reported that Theresa May will stay on as Prime Minister following the election on June 8th. The Conservative PM will seek to form a government with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (the DUP).
A recent Round-Up by Poppy Rimington-Pounder highlighted some welcome changes in the parties’ approaches to human rights in the pre-election manifestos. With the recent shift in political climate it seems that changes may be on the horizon.
What does the election result mean for human rights?
The much trumpeted commission on a UK Bill of Rights has been launched by the Ministry of Justice. It is pretty much as was leaked last week, although it will now have 8 rather than 6 experts chaired by Sir Leigh Lewis, a former Permanent Secretary to the Department of Work and Pensions.
The commission is to report by the end of 2012. Its members, described as “human rights experts”. Are they? The roll call, made up mostly of barristers, is:
A new Government report on the implementation of European Court of Human Rights judgments has highlighted the vexed issue of the rightful place of such rulings in domestic law. Many decisions, for example on prisoner voting rights, have languished unimplemented for years and it remains to be seen whether the Coalition Government will do any more to fulfil its legal obligations to the thousands affected.
The report sets out the Government’s position on the implementation of human rights judgments from the domestic and European courts. It is a response to the Joint Committee on Human Rights‘ March 2010 report, in which the committee criticised “inexcusable” delays in implementation.
The United Kingdom is obliged to implement judgments of the European Court of Human Rights under Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In 2009, the UK was found to have violated the European Convention 14 times, which represents 1% of the overall total of violations found by the Court. However, the UK has a high proportion of leading cases outstanding for more than 5 years.
Condliff, R (On the Application Of) v North Staffordshire Primary Care Trust  EWHC B8 (Admin) (07 April 2011) – Read judgment
What happens when the money for medical treatment runs out? The National Health Service has a limited budget. It also is obliged by law to provide necessary medical services to the public. Inevitably, some treatments will be considered unaffordable, and this sometimes leads to court challenges.
Two such challenges have arisen recently. One is interesting because it has been rejected (unless it is appealed) by the High Court, and the reasoning behind that rejection highlights how difficult it is to succeed in such claims, especially on human rights grounds. The other, because of the way it, and in particular its human rights aspects, has been reported. Not quite bad enough to merit placing on the legal naughty step, but not far off.
Hot on the heels of Cameron’s address on Wednesday, the Attorney-General Dominic Grieve gave a speech on Thursday which set out in further detail the Government’s plans for reform of the European Court of Human Rights and the incorporation of human rights into UK law.
The full text of the Attorney-General’s speech is not yet available (although a similar speech he gave last year and his own speech to the Council of Europe can be found here). However, it was interesting to compare his comments with those of David Cameron just a day before.
It took until 1998 for the UK Parliament to incorporate human rights directly into the domestic legal system. In light of the dangers posed by climate change, is it time to go one step further and grant rights to the Earth herself?
Bolivia has done just that – the Mother Earth Rights Law (Ley 071(21 December 2010)) has now come into force. Congratulations to everyone involved in drafting and promoting this law. With Evo Morales’ Party (the Movement Towards Socialism) having a majority in Congress and the Senate, this law passed without much opposition. It is a wonderful legal milestone, which I have been advocating for a number of years as the only way to balance the rights that humans have with the protection of the Planet and ultimately the human race.
Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) is the red button for the nuclear option of withdrawal from the EU, and in its design, it was never really, truly envisioned to be pressed. Without testing, and without precedent, we are left with no idea of the potential fallout of pressing that red button. Compared to the quasi-constitutionism of Article 2 TEU evoking the values ‘common to the Member States’ of ‘pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between men and women’; or the brutal legalism of Title VII of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on competition, tax and the approximation of laws; Article 50 TEU is anaemic. It is, essentially, a button triggering a countdown clock, which is on a comparable level of advancement to the 1980s floppy disk.
The two-year countdown
Triggering Article 50 TEU will begin a two-year countdown to the end of UK Membership of the Union. Within that two-year period an agreement determining the withdrawal arrangements and the future relationship with the Union must be made. Barring a unanimous decision to extend the period, at the end of two years from the point of notification, the UK will no longer be a Member. The Treaties, and all rights and duties therein, cease to apply.
But now, as the British political establishment play a game of “pass the red button”, we are faced with some confounding, and concerning questions from a rights’ perspective. Likely to be lost in the two-year scramble for a political and trade agreement between the UK and EU, which will attempt at all costs to avoid the fall-back position of the application of WTO trade rules, are the very rights and values held as common between the (ex-)Member State(s). During that two-year period, EU law and (pertinently) EU rights will continue to apply in the UK. Free movement will still be (from a legal perspective) free, and claimants may still rely on their EU rights in the Courts. But then what? What happens when the clock strikes zero? Continue reading →
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular wholesome takeaway 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 Sarina Kidd.
Welcome to 2014 and Santa has brought us the Defamation Act 2013, which aims to reduce the ‘chilling effect’ of previous libel laws . But as we enter 2014, not all is new. The Conservative Party continues to complain about European human rights. They seek to challenge the ECtHR ban on prison life sentences. How to deal with this? With hundreds of years of imprisonment instead. Meanwhile, today criminal lawyers will refuse to appear at court in order to protest against legal aid and criminal barrister fee cuts.
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