Wang Yam v Attorney General  EW Misc 10 (CCrimC) 27 February 2014 – read judgment
It is for the UK government to decide whether to vary an order preventing publication of material heard in private in a murder trial, if the offender goes on to petition the European Court of Human Rights. It is not for the Strasbourg Court to determine whether the right to a fair trial should outweigh the risks to UK national security reasons.
The question regarding a state’s obligation not to impede the right of individual petition to Strasbourg arose where the applicant offender applied for an order permitting him to refer to material, which had been restricted on national security grounds during his murder trial, in an application to the European Court of Human Rights. Continue reading →
Last week, a number of media commentators, politicians and others sought to subvert the second consultation of the Bill of Rights Commission. This consultation invites views on a number of key issues that form part of the Commission’s mandate. In the Daily Mail’s correspondent’s view, the Commission has committed an appalling transgression by asking potential respondents whether the UK Bill of Rights should include additional rights, referring amongst other things to socio-economic rights. This is echoed by the Sun which argues that the Commission has ‘suggested’ (which it clearly has not) that ‘all Brits be given handouts as a birth right’, and the Daily Express which suggests “Spongers can Sue to Claim Benefits”.
Hassan v. the United Kingdom (application no. 29750/09) ECHR 936 (16 September 2014) – read judgment
This case concerned the capture of an Iraqi national, Tarek Hassan, by the British armed forces and his detention at Camp Bucca in southeastern Iraq during the hostilities in 2003. The complaint was brought by his brother, who claimed that Tarek had been under the control of British forces, and that his dead body was subsequently found bearing marks of torture and execution. In essence, the case raised issues concerning the acts of British armed forces in Iraq, extra-territorial jurisdiction and the application of the European Convention of Human Rights in the context of an international armed conflict. This was the first case in which a contracting State had requested the Court to disapply its obligations under Article 5 or in some other way to interpret them in the light of powers of detention available to it under international humanitarian law, which allows the internment of prisoners of war at times of international conflict.
The Grand Chamber held that although Tarek Hassan had been within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom between the time of his arrest by British troops until the moment of his release; there had been no violation of Article 5(1), (2), (3) or (4) (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights as concerned his actual capture and detention. The European Convention had to be interpreted in parallel with international instruments which applied in time of war. Four out of the seventeen judges dissented on this point. Continue reading →
R (on the application of) Lord Carlile of Berriew and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department 20 March 2013  EWCA Civ 199 – read judgment
Last year the Divisional Court upheld the Home Secretary’s decision to prevent a dissident Iranian politician coming to the United Kingdom to address the Palace of Westminster: see that decision here and my post discussing the “Politics of Fear” here.
In this appeal, the parliamentarians contended that the Divisional Court had failed to consider the proportionality of the exclusion decision with sufficient scrutiny, and, by giving precedence to the possibility of unlawful actions by the Iranian regime, had given inadequate weight to the rule of law. It was perverse, they said, to justify the exclusion decisions by reference to risks to local staff and British government property in Tehran. Furthermore they argued that there had been unfairness in failing to consult the Parliamentary appellants. Continue reading →
When two Nobel Laureates, an eminent constitutional lawyer and the Secretary General of COSATU (South Africa’s largest trade union federation) are unified in their stinging criticism of a proposed Bill, it may be the time has come for a redraft. Following 293 condemnatory submissions to the National Council of Provinces’ Ad Hoc Committee, the ANC has begun to make concessions.
In an unexpected volte-face at Committee deliberations last month, the ANC tabled a raft of amendments to the current draft of the controversial Protection of State Information Bill. Key proposals include the insertion of a narrow ‘public interest defence’ in relation to a Clause 43 charge of unlawful disclosure of classified information and scrapping of the intolerably low mental element ofconstructive knowledge – “ought reasonably to know” – from many of the offence-creating provisions. By virtue of the former amendment, an accused would also be able to rely on a defence of ‘wrongful classification’.
More documents have emerged calling into question what the UK security services knew about the alleged mistreatment of ‘War on Terror’ detainees. Until this case is resolved, it is unlikely that work will begin on the upcoming torture inquiry.
Various documents have been disclosed in the ongoing case of Al Rawi and Others v The Security Services, in which six men who were detained at various locations, including Guantanamo Bay and Bagram in Afghanistan, allege various forms of mistreatment. They say that the UK government knew or should reasonably have known that the mistreatment was happening. Although the case has not yet reached trial, it has been the subject of a number of high-profile applications for secret documents (see our posts here and here).
Economic Freedom Fighters v Speaker of the National Assembly, President Jacob Zuma and Public Protector Case CCT 143/15; Democratic Alliance v Speaker of the National Assembly, President Jacob Zuma, Minister of Police, Public Protector with Corruption Watch as Amicus Curiae – Case CCT 171/15 (31 March 2016) – read judgment
The Constitutional Court of South Africa last week handed down a damning judgement against the ruling head of the African National Party (the ANC). Despite this judgment, parliament voted not to impeach him. The ANC defeated the opposition-sponsored motion, saying Mr Zuma was not guilty of “serious misconduct”.
Background to the Constitutional Court proceedings
The Public Protector is an institution set up under the South African Constitution to ensure good governance and “strengthen constitutional democracy in the Republic”. She investigated allegations of improper conduct or irregular expenditure relating to the security upgrades at President Zuma’s Nkandla private residence, and she concluded that the President failed to act in line with certain of his constitutional and ethical obligations by knowingly deriving undue benefit from the irregular deployment of State resources. Exercising her constitutional powers to take appropriate remedial action she directed that the President, duly assisted by certain State functionaries, should work out and pay a portion fairly proportionate to the undue benefit that had accrued to him and his family. Added to this was that he should reprimand the Ministers involved in that project, for specified improprieties.
For well over a year, neither the President nor the National Assembly did what they were required to do in terms of the remedial action. Therefore the EFF and the DA took these applications agains the National Assembly and the President, arguing that the President should be ordered to comply with the remedial action. Continue reading →
R (BB) v. Special Immigration Appeals Commission and Home Secretary – Read judgment.
The Divisional Court has ruled that bail proceedings before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (“SIAC”) are subject to the same procedural standard under Article 5(4) of the European Convention (the right to liberty) whether they take place before or after the substantive judgment. That standard is that the applicant must be given sufficient information about the allegations against him to enable him to give effective instructions in relation to those allegations, as set out in A v United Kingdom and R (Cart) v. SIAC.
This decision forms the latest in a string of cases considering the extent to which the Government can rely on secret or ‘closed’ evidence in defending appeals by individuals challenging decisions made against them. A judgment by the Supreme Court is imminently expected in the conjoined cases of Al-Rawi v. Security Service and Tariq v. Home Office (see helpful summary here and our analysis of the broader issue of open justice here), which consider this issue in relation to civil damages claims and employment law claims. However, BB is the High Court’s most recent pronouncement on the position in the fraught area of immigration and national security.
Omar & Ors, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs  EWHC 1737 (Admin) (26 June 2012) – read judgment
The Divisional Court has ruled that common law principles cannot be used to obtain evidence from the Foreign Secretary for use in a foreign court.
Angus McCullough QC of 1 Crown Office Row appeared as a special advocate in the closed proceedings in this case. He is not the author of this post.
“Norwich Pharmacal” orders are sometimes granted to obtain information from third parties to help the court establish whether unlawful conduct has taken place. A court can in such a case compel the third party to assist the person suffering damage by giving them that information. In the cases of Binyan Mohamad and Shakar Aamer the courts extended the application of these orders to foreign cases. Now it appears that both may have been wrongly decided.
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”.
Tucked away on page 48 of the Conservative Party 2019 election manifesto, the following passage could be found in a section entitled “Protecting our Democracy”:
After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people. The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical. We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays. In our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission that will examine these issues in depth, and come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates.
That is something of a laundry list of many of the most charged constitutional issues faced by the United Kingdom. But of all the matters cited, the one which has received perhaps the most attention of late is the Government’s apparent intention to consider changes to our system of judicial review.
In this article, Prachiti Venkatraman and Ashley Jordana of Global Rights Compliance analyse the case before the International Court of Justice relating to the persecution of the Rohingya people by the Myanmar authorities.
Readers are encouraged to read the previous articles about this topic published on the blog here and here.
The perilous situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar continues – the recent UN policy brief on Covid-19 in South-East Asia highlighted the compounded effects of the nation’s weak healthcare system and an ongoing armed conflict that targets ethnic communities.
On 11 November 2019, The Gambia filed an Application to commence proceedings against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice (‘the Court’). The Application alleged that Myanmar had violated its obligations under the Genocide Convention by committing acts intended to destroy in whole or in part the Rohingya community, as well as attempting and conspiring to commit genocide, inciting genocide, being complicit in its commission, and failing to prevent and punish genocide. To demonstrate the validity of these allegations, The Gambia relied on the actions of the Burmese military (‘the Tatmadaw’) and individuals connected to the State of Myanmar during the ‘clearance operations’ in 2016 and 2017 which led to the mass murder, sexual violence, and destruction of Rohingya villages in Rakhine state.
“I believe that it should be a matter for parliament to decide, not a foreign court.”
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.
The biggest news of the week this week was the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the Scoppola v Italy case; the latest in the long-running prisoner voting saga. The Court refused to overrule its 2005 decision in Hirst No. 2but also found that proportionality does not require individual determination by a judge on a case by case basis. There was predictable anger from the tabloid press plus some more cogent articles, some of which have been set out below.
This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.