Straining out a Gnat and Swallowing a Camel: The Convention, the Charter and Mrs May

Photo credit: Guardian

By Marina Wheeler QC

In a speech about Brexit last week, the Home Secretary shared what she called her “hard-headed analysis”: membership of an unreformed EU makes us safer, but – beware the non-sequitur – we must withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, which does not.

It is surely time for some clearer Government thinking about these questions. If politicians could put politics to one side, they might recognise that the Convention and the Strasbourg court are not enemies of our sovereignty, but there are aspects of EU law as applied by the Court of Justice in Luxembourg which are.

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Scotland, Sewel, and the Human Rights Act

Photo credit: Guardian

Photo credit: Guardian

The Queen’s speech suggests a slowing of the Government’s plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights. But recent comments from the Scottish Human Rights Commissioner suggest the Conservatives may be considering removal of HRA protections in relation to English and reserved UK-wide matters only, leaving the Human Rights Act in place in the other devolved areas of the UK. 

Much ink has been spilled over the Government’s proposals. This article will take a narrow look at Scotland’s relationship with the Human Rights Act, and how devolution may be a future thorn in the Government’s side. 

But wait! I thought the Human Rights Act was enshrined in the Scotland Act. Doesn’t that protect the Human Rights Act in Scotland?

Sort of (not really).

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North of the Wall – A Beginner’s Guide to Scots Law

With our new team of Scots law researchers in place, the time has come for the briefest of introductions to the Scottish legal system. David Scott is our tour guide.

The Court system

The Scottish court system is divided into five tiers:

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The round-up: more righteous indignation about the Human Rights Act – in both camps.

hot_airIn the news

We can be sure of one thing. A battle is coming.” The future of the Human Rights Act still dominates the news, and this quote comes from UKHRB’s Adam Wagner, who suggests five tactics to ensure that human rights are not eroded. Perhaps the most in-depth analysis to date comes from Jack of Kent, who isolates the “seven hurdles” facing the government, including  Scotland, Tory backbench rebels, the House of Lords and the wording of the “British Bill of Rights” itself. He summarises:

So the current situation is: if the UK government can address the immense problems presented by Scottish devolution and the Good Friday Agreement, win-over or defeat Conservative supporters of the Act, shove the legislation through the house of lords, work out which rights are to be protected, somehow come up with a draft Bill of British Rights, and also explain why any of this is really necessary, and can do all this (or to do something dramatic) in “one hundred days” then…the Conservatives can meet their manifesto commitment in accordance with their ambitious timetable. But it seems unlikely.

Jack of Kent´s conclusion is echoed by Matthew Scott in the Telegraph (“Gove…faces almost insurmountable odds”), Mark Elliott in Public Law for Everyone (“the HRA…is far more deeply politically entrenched that the UK Government has so far appreciated”) and the Economist (“getting rid of the HRA will be tough – and almost pointless”). Continue reading

The Round-up: Black Spiders and Superhero Jurisdictions

Ms Apata with her partner, Happiness Agboro. Photo credit: The Independent

Hannah Lynes brings us the latest edition of the Human Rights Round-up

In the news

A challenge brought against a Home Office decision to deport LGBT activist Aderonke Apata was this week rejected by the High Court. Ms Apata fears a return to Nigeria would mean “imprisonment and death because of her sexuality”, reports the Independent.

 

Ms Apata claimed to be engaged to a long-term partner and the paper reports that she was “so desperate to convince the Government she was gay that she submitted a private DVD and photographs of her sex life as evidence.”

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UKHRB event: The Future of Human Rights – 21 May 2014

Freedman-Failing-to-Protect-webI am delighted to announce that the UK Human Rights Blog in association with Hurst Publishers and Berwin Leighton Paisner are organising a fascinating panel debate, chaired by me, on Wed 21 May 2014. The panel is stellar.

It is a free event but places are strictly limited so you have to register here if you want to secure your place.

‘The Future of Human Rights’ on the occasion of the publication of Failing to Protect: the UN and the Politicisation of Human Rights by Dr Rosa Freedman
Date: Wednesday 21 May 2014
Time: 6.30pm for 7.00pm
Location: The Auditorium, Adelaide House, London Bridge, London EC4R 9HA (map)
Hurst Publishers, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP and the UK Human Rights Blog are delighted to invite you to a panel discussion on ‘The Future of Human Rights’ on the occasion of the publication of Failing to Protect: the UN and the Politicisation of Human Rights by Dr Rosa Freedman.Chair

  • Adam Wagner – Barrister, 1 Crown Office Row and editor of the UK Human Rights Blog

Panel

  • Philippe Sands – Professor of International Law, University College London
  • Jane Connors – Chief of Special Procedures Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Marc Limon – Executive Director, Universal Rights Group
  • Professor Fiona de Londras, Durham University

Drinks will be served before and after the debate.

Please let us know if you will be attending the panel discussion by clicking here.

Another cracking year for the UK Human Rights Blog

Champagne ExplosionHello all, and happy holidays! 2012 has been a cracking year for the UK Human Rights Blog. As is customary, below are the top 2012 posts by hit count, but also a few of my own highlights of 2012:

  • After just over two and a half years in operation the blog is now achieving our aim (we hope) of informing and enhancing the human rights debate, which is no less controversial and caricatured than it was in March 2010.
  • The weekly Human Rights Roundups have become one of the most popular features of the blog, thanks to our fantastic updaters Daniel Isenberg, Sam Murrant and Wessen Jazrawi who moved on to other things in 2012.
  • In our third year we smashed one million hits and are already getting close to two million. We are regularly quoted across the media and for the first time this year, in the Northern Ireland Assembly. We are now getting close to 100,000 hits per month and are consistently ranked as the top legal blog on the ‘e-buzzing’ influence rankings.
  • We have over 4,000 email subscribers (just enter your email address in the box to the right to subscribe for free), over 2,000 on our Facebook fan page and 2,000+ on our @ukhumanrightsb Twitter account. You can also follow me on @adamwagner1 and my fantastic co-editors Angus McCullough QC on @amccqc and Rosalind English on @rosalindenglish.
  • Thank you to all of the fantastic contributors from 1 Crown Office Row (the barristers’ chambers which runs the blog)  as well as guest contributors from elsewhere, who have contributed to almost 1,500 individual posts. I have taken more of a back seat editorial role this year so as to get on with my day job (I am a practising barrister, honest – you can read about me here), an arrangement which has strengthened the blog.
  • Thank you also to all of those who have commented on individual posts both on the blog and on Twitter, which has been particularly vibrant in legal debates this year. Some of those debates have been fantastic and they add immeasurably to the content on the blog. As always, we welcome comments on any aspect of the blog, including the refreshed design which you may have noticed in the past few days. Thank you also to the growing army of fantastic legal bloggers (see our links section on the sidebar) who regularly link to the blog in their own post.
  • One final reminder: all of our blog posts are categorised by legal topic and article of the European Convention on Human Rights: you can access the categories by way of the drop down menu on the right sidebar (for example family law, technology, Article 8 etc) as well as by clicking categories under individual posts. Our index of European Convention Rights is here.

Without further ado, here are the top twenty posts of 2012:

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