human rights news


Down the Rabbit Hole of Genetic Testing

19 April 2016 by

Can our genotype tell us about our behaviour as well as our biology?

Photo credit: Guardian

“ After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill: the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill: you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

– Morpheus, The Matrix

The explosion of genetic testing in the last half century has produced unquantifiable benefits, allowing scientists to understand the constitution of genetic disorders and dramatically improve disease diagnosis, avoidance and treatment. Consider the near-eradication of Tay-Sachs, a fatal neurodegenerative disease, since the introduction of screening in the 1970s; the standardisation of newborn testing; and the introduction of BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing for inherited cancer genes.

These advances have created challenging ethical and legal questions, however: How much information does each of us want to know about our genetic makeup?; Do we have a responsibility to seek such information out? What should we do with the information once we get it? What about the significant risks of stigmatisation and discrimination?; And, where do doctors’ duties begin and end insofar as they are, or ought to be aware of testing outcomes?

In the High Court last week (judgment available here) McKenna J dealt with the latter question, striking out a claim by a patient’s relatives over a missed diagnosis of a genetic disorder and holding that a third party cannot recover damages for a personal injury suffered because of an omission in the treatment of another.
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de Menezes: No individual prosecutions, but an effective investigation – ECtHR

1 April 2016 by

This week, the mosaic shrine adorning the wall outside Stockwell underground station once again became the focal point for difficult questions surrounding the police response the terrorist attacks of 2005.

The judgment of a Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Da Silva v the United Kingdom draws a line under a long legal battle mounted by the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, the young Brazilian electrician shot dead by the Metropolitan Police on 22 July 2005 having been mistaken for a suicide bomber.
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The Round-up: A British Bill of Rights on the Horizon?

11 May 2015 by

Photo Credit: The Telegraph

In the news

‘The Conservative Party has won a majority and can implement its manifesto. The Human Rights Act will be scrapped,’ writes Colin Yeo for the Free Movement blog. Such an outcome might not be a foregone conclusion, but Professor Mark Elliott is clear that ‘repeal of the HRA, the adoption of a British Bill of Rights and perhaps even withdrawal from the ECHR are now less unthinkable’.

Questions surrounding the content of the proposed Bill of Rights have therefore assumed increased urgency. A press release issued in October 2014 spoke of limiting the rights of illegal immigrants, travellers, victims of British military abuse and foreigners who commit crimes in the UK. Yet as UKHRB founder Adam Wagner notes, ‘only foreign criminals were mentioned in the manifesto, so it is all to play for.’

The HRA has failed to secure resilience in domestic politics. Benedict Douglas for the UK Constitutional Law blog attributes this failure to an absence in the Act of a ‘justification for rights possession in dignity or any other foundational human characteristic’. Mark Elliott points to the manner of its introduction: little effort was made ‘to engage the general public in what was perceived to be a political and legal elite’s pet project’.

Current discussions could thus present an opportunity, argues Adam Wagner for RightsInfo. A ‘Bill of Rights, done properly with real public involvement might help convince people that human rights are for all of us.’

For those looking to read more about human rights reform:

The Human Rights Act and a Question of Legitimacy – Barrister Austen Morgan considers the advantages of a British Bill of Rights for The Justice Gap.

What does a Conservative Government Mean for the Future of Human Rights in the UK? – Professor Mark Elliot puts together a useful list of recent posts he has written on Conservative plans for reform.

Other news:

  • Michael Gove has been appointed Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor in the post-election Cabinet. The Telegraph reports here.
  • BBC: Two Syrian asylum seekers imprisoned for failing to provide passports have been successful in appealing their convictions.
  • The High Court has ruled that a child should be brought up by her genetic father and his male partner, despite objections from the surrogate mother. The Guardian reports.
  • The Justice Gap: The Uk Supreme Court has launched an on-demand video catch-up.
  • Legal Voice: More than 8,000 lawyers are set to join the London Legal Walk to raise funds for the legal not-for-profit sector
  • Mark Freedland and Jeremias Prassl express concerns over the impact and regulation of ‘zero-hours contracts’ for the Oxford Human Rights Hub.

In the courts

The case concerned the imposition of administrative fines on individuals who had been acquitted by the criminal courts of the same offence. The ECtHR found a violation of the right to a presumption of innocence (contra. Article 6 ECHR) and also the right not to be tried or punished twice (Article 4 of Protocol No.7).

UK HRB posts

Events

‘In Conversation with Sir Stephen Sedley’ – As part of LSE’s Legal Biography Project, Sir Ross Cranston will interview Sir Stephen Sedley on his life and career in the law. The event will be held on 19 May in the Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building. More information can be found here.

If you would like your event to be mentioned on the Blog, please email Jim Duffy at jim.duffy@1cor.com

Hannah Lynes

 

Caped Crusaders and Princely Rights – The Human Rights Round-Up

19 April 2015 by

Photo credit: The Guardian

Photo credit: The Guardian

Laura Profumo runs through the week’s human rights headlines.

In the News:

The Conservative party published its manifesto last week. The document makes for curious reading, writes academic Mark Elliott. The manifesto confirms the party’s pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act and to replace it with a British Bill of Rights, reversing the “mission creep” of current human rights law.

Yet the polarising references to “Labour’s Human rights Act” illustrate the Act’s failure to secure supra-political constitutional status, being tossed between the parties like a “political football”, writes Elliott.

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‘Killer Robots’ and ‘Conversion Therapies’ – The Human Rights Round-up

14 April 2015 by

A scene from the 2003 film Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

This week’s Round-up is brought to you by Alex Wessely.

In the news:
Military chiefs have criticised the influence of Human Rights law in a report published this week, arguing that the “need to arrest and detain enemy combatants in a conflict zone should not be expected to comply with peace-time standards”. This follows a series of cases over the years which found the Ministry of Defence liable for human rights violations abroad, culminating in allegations of unlawful killing in the Al-Sweady Inquiry that were judged “wholly without foundation” in December.

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Judicial Review and Legal Aid under threat… and a Human Rights Birthday – The Human Rights Roundup

8 September 2013 by

birthday roundupWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular Olympic opening ceremony 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 Daniel Isenberg.

Blow out the candles and wish a very happy 60th birthday to the ECHR.  That celebration has been the cause of much reflection and commentary, including looking at the UK’s future relationship with the Convention and the Human Rights Act.  Elsewhere, the MoJ has released consultations  on new criminal legal aid plans and further proposed changes to judicial review.


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Legality of War, More Miranda and Judicial Review Moving Out – The Human Rights Roundup

2 September 2013 by

Assad HRRWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular glittering galaxy 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.

Military intervention in Syria has been greatly discussed this week in the media. Here, we look at how legal it would be for the UK to send troops over. Meanwhile, David Miranda’s hearing continues, and many judicial review claims are due, soon, to move from the High Court to the Upper Tribunal.


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David Miranda Special Edition – The Human Rights Roundup

26 August 2013 by

TrollWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular airport departure board of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Daniel Isenberg.

Picturing a dystopian world and totalitarian government, it is perhaps fitting that Aldous Huxley takes the title of Brave New World from lines uttered in The Tempest by the character named Miranda.  It is a different Miranda who dominates this week’s news, opening the debate on Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.


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Twitter Trolls, Tribunal Online (Finally), Don’t go Home – The Human Rights Roundup

19 August 2013 by

TrollWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular menagerie of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd.

This week, judicial review continued to take a beating, the Home Office backed down over their ‘Go Home’ campaign and the legal implications behind the twitter threat debacle were considered. And, finally, the immigration and asylum tribunal launched a useful online search service.


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Go Home, Legal Aid and Mental Capacity – The Human Rights Roundup

12 August 2013 by

Home office Go Home or Face ArrestWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular non-silly season of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Daniel Isenberg.

The end of the legal term seemingly does not mean a let-up in immigration news, with a number of Home Office, asylum and immigration-related stories making the headlines.  Also, the back-and-forth on legal aid cuts continues, as well as some interesting perspectives on the Mental Capacity Act, sexual offences trials and the FOIA veto. Some interesting judgments too, particularly on secret trials.


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Disability Discrimination, Judicial Review Standing and Right to Die – The Human Rights Roundup

4 August 2013 by

Paul Lamb (credit- Guardian)Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular heat wave of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd.

A fairly quiet week in terms of volume, but nevertheless some notable  issues. Of note are plans to restrict judicial review, the ‘bedroom tax’ judgment, and a key decision in the ongoing debate on assisted suicide.


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Immigrants Go Home, the Third Source & Judicial Review Standing Changes – The Human Rights Roundup

29 July 2013 by

Human rights roundup (IGH)Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular social media storm of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Daniel Isenberg.

With the judges winding down for their end of term break, this is not such a busy week of news; so instead a good opportunity to think over the role of the European Convention on Human Rights.  Various immigration stories keeping the commentators busy, if not making the headlines; and keep up-to-date in public law with the latest from the ALBA conference.

Reminder: there is a Rally for Legal Aid  tomorrow, Tuesday 30 July, 4:30-6:30 at the Old Bailey. Full details here.


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Putting a ring on it, Constitutional Carnage and Court Transparency – The Human Rights Roundup

23 July 2013 by

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 08.21.56Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular summer thunderstorm of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd.

This week, the government’s controversial legislation on same sex marriage received Royal Assent. And, as we welcome a new royal baby, less glamorous facets of the UK’s constitutional arrangements have been in the news.


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Whole Life Tariffs, No Litvinenko Inquiry & Keeping Things Quiet – The Human Rights Roundup

15 July 2013 by

litvinenkoWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular Swiss Army Knife of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Daniel Isenberg.

The focus of this week’s news was on the European Court on Human Rights’ views on whole life tariffs and miscarriages of justice, which has fed into the recent Abu Qatada deportation and continuing questions about the relationship between the UK, the Convention and the Court. Elsewhere, the Attorney-General was deemed to have lawfully exercised his override to suppress disclosure of Prince Charles’ letters, and there will be no public inquiry into the death of Litvinenko.

Supreme essay success

Top billing this week comes from our very own Daniel Isenberg’s fantastic winning essay in the UK Supreme Court, which has now been published on Guardian.co.uk – Do we need more or fewer dissenting voices in the UK supreme court? [Daniel did not put his own essay in top billing, it was me – but from everyone at UKHRB, we wish him hearty congratulations! Adam]

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Bye Bye Abu Qatada, Secret Trials Are Here & A Legal Aid U-Turn – The Human Rights Roundup

7 July 2013 by

Human rights roundup (Abu Q)Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular Wimbledon Tennis Championship of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd.

This week, Chris Grayling made a concession, the closed material procedure for evidence in civil trials came into effect, and to Theresa May’s delight, Abu Qatada finally left the country.


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