Laura Profumo brings you the latest human rights happenings.
In the News:
In a critical, though arguably overdue, decision, the Court of Appeal has suspended the fast-track immigration appeals system. The process, under which rejected asylum seekers are detained and given only seven days to appeal, was held “structurally unfair” by the High Court, before being halted altogether by last week’s appeal. The ruling was welcomed by the appellant charity, Detention Action, as meaning “asylum seekers can no longer be detained…simply for claiming asylum”. Previously, the fast-track deadlines could be imposed on any asylum seeker from any country, if the Home Office considered their case could be decided quickly. This marks the third time courts have found the system to be unlawful, yet the suspension will now stay in force until a government appeal is mounted. The decision deals a major blow to a system which is “inefficient, bureaucratic, demeaning and dehumanising”, writes immigration expert Colin Yeo. Whilst there is “no doubt” a replacement fast track will soon be found, in the meantime “let us savour the respite” from such crude expediency.
In other news, the spotlight remains on America, in the euphoric wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v Hodges. The final paragraph of Justice Kennedy’s judgment, in its stirring clarity, is set to make legal history. Yet not everyone is “enveloped in a warm and fuzzy feeling”, writes UKHRB’s own Jim Duffy. Justice Scalia, the firebrand conservative, “pulled no punches” in his dissent, citing the majority opinion as “egotistic” and a “threat to American democracy”. Scalia’s arrival in London last week further stoked the Obergefell debate. Speaking at a Federalist Society event, Scalia held his colleagues had wrongly used the due process clause to distill a substantive, rather than procedural, right. Defending his position as a constitutional originalist, Scalia maintained the meaning of the Constitution as fixed, rather than the “wonderfully seductive judicial theory” of living constitutions, in which “we can have all sorts of new things, like same sex marriage”. When asked about the proposed Bill of Rights, the Justice’s response was particularly biting: “You can’t do any worse than the situation you’re in now”. Continue reading →
As Andrew Tickellnoted in his post on Wednesday the European Court of Human Rights this week ruled that the UK violated the Article 5(1) ECHR rights of three prisoners sentenced to indeterminate prison sentences for public protection, where reasonable provision for their rehabilitation was not made.
In April 2005, the Government introduced indeterminate imprisonment for the public protection, or “IPP sentences”, whereby certain prisoners would not have a right to parole. Instead, under section 225 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, they would remain in prison following expiry of their tariff periods until a Parole Board had decided they were no longer a risk to the public. Prior to an amendment in 2008, an IPP sentence was mandatory where there was a future risk of further offending, and there was an assumption of risk where there was a previous conviction for a violent or sexual offence unless the sentencing judge considered it unreasonable to make such an assumption.
An interesting event – particularly in the current political context – takes place this Thursday at LSE. Hart Publishing will be marking the launch of a new book, “>’“>Europe’s Justice Deficit?‘, with a debate between Justice Guiliano Amato of the Constitutional Court of Italy and Professor Christian Joerges of the Hertie School of Government. Justice Amato twice served as Prime Minister of Italy.
Together with the book’s co-editors (Dimitry Kochenov, Gráinne de Búrca and Andrew Williams) and authors, Amato and Joerges will consider whether the EU is simply a political and legal order, whether it undermines the pursuit of justice by Member States, and whether scholars and policy-makers have paid sufficient attention to questions of justice in the EU context.
Date and place: Thursday June 4, 2015, London School of Economics and Political Science; 3-6pm, room 32L.G.03 (on the South side of the Lincoln’s Inn Fields). The event will be followed by a reception.
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.
Following David Hart’s highly popular review of Alan Paterson’s book on the Supreme Court, here’s an account of the recent public speeches of Lord Sumption, Lord Justice Laws, and Lady Hale. I apologise in advance for the length of this post, but to do justice to all three lectures it has proved necessary to quote extensively from each. There are links to the full text of the lectures, if you want to digest them over Christmas. But whether or not that prospect appeals, here is a challenge for the festive season. Lord Sumption divides judges into three categories: the “parson”, the “pragmatic realist” and the”analyst” (quoted by Professor Paterson in Final Judgment: The Last Law Lords and the Supreme Court). Which of these labels fit the respective speakers? Continue reading →
Financial restrictions imposed in 2009 on an Iranian Bank which effectively excluded it from the UK financial market did not breach common law or ECHR principles of fairness, said the Court of Appeal on Thursday.
The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 conferred powers on the Treasury to restrict persons operating in the financial sector from entering or participating in any transaction or business relationship with the appellant Bank Mellat (BM). The Order, which was subject to the affirmative resolution procedure and reviewable on limited grounds (Section 63(2) CTA) was justified by a Ministerial Statement which declared that the direction to cease business would
reduce the risk of the UK financial sector being used, unknowingly or otherwise, to facilitate Iran’s proliferation sensitive activities. Continue reading →
Appellate judges are obliged to review systemic failings in the family justice system as a whole, not just the merits of the trial judge’s determination, particularly where the process has deprived the parties of their rights to procedural fairness under Articles 6 and 8. Whilst this particular appeal was not “a fitting vehicle to enable a root and branch appraisal of the procedural history of this protracted case”, McFarlane LJ has taken the opportunity to give full voice to the “profound feeling of failure” felt by Court on the part of the Family Justice system.
The law does its best in the triangulation of estranged parents and their children . But sometimes it does nothing more than concentrate an already toxic mixture of manipulation, mistrust and deception that seeps over the fragile construct of family life that has fallen apart at the start. As anyone involved with the family justice system would readily agree, the conduct of human relationships, particularly following the breakdown in the relationship between the parents of a child, are not readily conducive to organisation and dictat by court order; nor are they the responsibility of the courts or the judges. Nevertheless, as the Court of Appeal points out, “substantive” resources have been made available to courts and judges to discharge their responsibility in matters relating to children in a manner which affords paramount consideration to the welfare of those children “and to do so in a manner, within the limits of the court’s powers, which is likely to be effective as opposed to ineffective.” Continue reading →
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 Rahmatullah Supreme Courtjudgment remained in the spotlight this week, but had to share it with old faces such as Abu Hamza (whose case has managed to keep outraging the public despite his extradition to the US), the loudly ticking clock of prisoner voting and the attendant debate over whether the UK should replace the Human Rights Act with a “British” human rights statute. Meanwhile, the ruling on whether Abu Qatada can be deported to Jordan is coming tomorrow (Monday).
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular raging winter storm 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.
The Government received an unwelcome early christmas present this week, with the Joint Parliamentary Committee reporting that a blanket ban on prisoner enfranchisement had no rational basis. Meanwhile, Britain’s potentially unlawful treatment of detainees with regard to rendition and torture are coming to light with the Gibson Inquiry, and a senior judge has announced that perhaps, after the ‘forced Caesarean’ escalation, there needs to be more transparency in the family courts and Court of Protection.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular Easter egg hunt 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.
Chris Grayling is on the offensive again over Judicial Review, the Home Secretary has faced a defeat over her decision to maintain a freeze on the money given to destitute asylum seekers, while in other news, the Strasbourg court rejects a challenge to a UK ban on secondary industrial action and the long-running Al-Sweady Inquiry has concluded hearing oral evidence.
Application by Guardian & Various Claimants v. NGN & Mulcaire- read judgment
A high court judge has allowed the media unrestricted access to documents submitted to the court for use in litigation by victims of phone hacking who have now reached settlements with News Group Newspapers (NGN).
Full disclosure of this material was resisted by the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire on the grounds that it would create a “substantial risk” that the course of justice in the criminal proceedings he faces will be seriously impeded or prejudiced. The Telegraph and other papers have now published passages of the documents which were previously censored following this order from Vos J, the judge who has presided over more than 50 hacking claims against NGN.
Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 together with Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s then royal editor, after police found they had hacked phones belonging to members of the Royal household. The Telegraph reports that a section of the documents released in these proceedings that had been previously redacted
alleges that from 1998, when Mulcaire first started working with the News of the World, he “entered into a conspiracy with senior executives of [NGN] including Clive Goodman and Journalists A,B,C,D and E whereby he would, on their behalf, obtain information about individuals of interest to [NGN] journalists and use electronic intelligence and eavesdropping in order to obtain this information. Continue reading →
To celebrate reaching 200,000 listens, and in the event that any of our listeners wish to keep their grey matter ticking over during the heatwave/whilst sipping poolside pina coladas, we have prepared a Summer “Greatest Hits” playlist of our most popular episodes of 2019 so far. We hope you enjoy it, and wish all of our listeners a relaxing summer break.
A veritable powerhouse panel respond to Lord Sumption’s 2019 Reith lectures, as part of the Constitutional and Administrative Bar Association’s summer conference featuring Lord Dyson, Sir Stephen Laws, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, Professor Meg Russell, Lord Falconer and Chaired by Mrs Justice Thornton. This episode is followed by a conversation between Lord Sumption and Lord Justice Singh, responding to the panel. Enjoy!
2. Consent and Causation with Robert Kellar QC (Episode 70)
Emma-Louise Fenelon talks to Robert Kellar about consent and causation, discussing the development of the law since Chester v Afshar through to Khan v MNX.
Updated 27 Aug (17:15) |A High Court judge has branded the Legal Service Commission’s recent and highly controversial tender for legal aid work as a “dreadful” and potentially irrational decision.
The comments of Mr Justice Collins came in a permission hearing (i.e., only the first stage of a two-part process) on the application by the Community Law Partnership to judicially review the LSC’s recent tender, and specifically the rejection of CLP’s own application. It appears from a Law Society Gazette article that the hearing was adjourned, with the judge warning the LSC to consider its position carefully, and that if it fights and loses the decision could set a dangerous precedent. The hearing is to resume in around a week and a half.
I attended a talk this morning given by Igor Sutyagin, a nuclear scientist who was detained for 11 years on charges of treason. He was released in July as part of the high-profile spy-swap with the United States.
Hearing Sutyagin’s description of the Russian justice system, as well as the “gulag” he was sent to for over a decade, brings into focus the enormous difference between legal systems within Europe. In the UK we can confidently expect that courts and judges will uphold the rule of law and act with impartiality. Whilst there are notable exceptions, our legal system has checks and balances in order that poor decisions can be weeded out. That system is imperfect but at least it is predictable and, on the whole, fair.
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