May 14, 2012 Off

Latest human rights developments in the UK: 7/5/2012 – 13/5/2012

By Justin Glenister in Weekly human rights updates

Mon 7/5/2012

Freedom of Expression: Judiciary
In Calver, R (on the app of) v The Adjudication Panel for Wales, the decision to censure a Welsh councillor for comments on his blog was a disproportionate interference with his right to freedom of expression, the High Court has ruled.
Judgment | UKHRB

Wed 9/5/2012

Deportation: Judiciary
In Othman (Abu Qatada) v the UK, radical cleric Abu Qatada has lost his attempt to make a final appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against his deportation from the UK.
Press release | BBC | Guardian | UKHRB

Deportation: Media
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper welcomed the news that Abu Qatada lost his attempt to make an appeal but says Home Secretary Theresa May should apologise because she had got the date of the appeal deadline wrong.
BBC

Military Conduct: Media
British military detention operations in Afghanistan are coming under increasing scrutiny in the UK courts, as the number of prisoners continues to grow and concern mounts that men handed over to the Kabul government are facing severe treatment.
Guardian

Thurs 10/5/2012

Deportation: House of Commons
The panel of the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR has rejected Abu Qatada’s request for a referral. The decision means the rule 39 injunction preventing his deportation has now been lifted and the action against him – through the UK courts – can now resume.
Theresa May, Home Secretary, Conservative
Full transcript

Deportation: House of Lords
The panel of the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR has rejected Abu Qatada’s request for a referral. The decision means the rule 39 injunction preventing his deportation has now been lifted and the action against him – through the UK courts – can now resume.
Lord Henley, Min of St for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour, Conservative
Full transcript

Right to Vote: Media
A 90-year-old’s campaign to overturn a ban on long-term British expats voting in UK elections has moved a step closer and could go all the way to the United Nations.
BBC

May 8, 2012 Off

Latest human rights developments in the UK: 30/4/2012 – 7/5/2012

By Justin Glenister in Weekly human rights updates

Mon 30/4/2012

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: House of Commons
A copy of the 2011 FCO report on human rights and democracy was laid before the house, assessing developments and setting out what the Government are doing through the FCO to promote human rights and democratic values around the world.
William Hague, Sec of St for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Conservative
Full transcript | UKHRB

Asylum for Young People: House of Commons
No discussions have been held between the EHRC and the Sec of St for the Home Department.
Damian Green, Min of St for Immigration, Conservative
Full transcript

Deportation: House of Lords
A brief discussion was had concerning the ongoing situation of Abu Qatada.
Lord Henley, Min of St for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour, Conservative
Full transcript

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: House of Lord
A copy of the 2011 FCO report on human rights and democracy was laid before the House, assessing developments and setting out what the Government are doing through the FCO to promote human rights and democratic values around the world.
Lord Howell of Guildford, Min of St for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Conservative
Full transcript | UKHRB

Equality and Human Rights Commission: House Lords
Details were provided of the remuneration of the chairman, deputy chairman and other members of the EHRC. Details for each Commissioner will be shown in the EHRC’s annual report and accounts for 2011-12, which will be published in due course.
Baroness Verma, Government Whip, Conservative
Full transcript

Right to Life: Judiciary
In R (Medihani) v HM Coroner for Inner South District of Greater London, the High Court held that a coroner unlawfully and unreasonably decided not to resume an inquest into the death of a teenage girl where her killer had been ruled unfit to plead at the Old Bailey and handed an indefinite hospital order.
Judgment | UKHRB

Deportation: Media
A militant Islamist group in North Africa has offered to free a hostage if Britain releases cleric Abu Qatada.
BBC

Freedom of Expression: Media
Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced an extra £1.5 million of funding focused on ‘promoting freedom of expression online’.
BBC

Asylum: Media
The Home Secretary Theresa May is under fire for failing to comply with a High Court order to bring an asylum seeker who is in hiding in Azerbaijan back to Britain.
Guardian

Tues 1/5/2012

Protection of Freedoms Bill: House of Lords
The Bill received Royal Assent.
Full transcript

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill: House of Lords
The Bill received Royal Assent.
Full transcript

Deportation: House of Commons
The number of removals from the UK refused by the ECtHR in the last ten years can be determined only by examination of individual records at disproportionate cost.
Damian Green, Min of St for Immigration, Conservative
Full transcript

Deportation: House of Commons
Statistics published by the ECtHR on the use of Rule 39 Interim Measures are available. The UKBA is aware that individuals may seek to frustrate their imminent removal or deportation by way of an application to the ECtHR and will challenge a negative decision made by the Court.
Damian Green, Min of St for Immigration, Conservative
Full transcript

Equality and Human Rights Commission: House of Commons
The Government’s assessment is that the proposed budget reductions will have no impact on the EHRC’s United Nations ‘A’ status accreditation as a human rights institution.
Lynne Featherstone, Under-Sec of St for Equalities, Lib Dem
Full transcript

European Court of Human Rights: House of Lords
There are currently twelve lead judgments against the UK which became final in or before 2010 under supervision by the Committee of Ministers and details were provided of these. According to the ECtHR Report 2010, the UK lost 271 cases up to 31 December 2010.
Lord McNally, Min of St for Justice, Lib Dem
Full transcript

Extradition: House of Lords
A breakdown was provided of the number of arrests as well as surrenders by country since the start of 2011. Figures from 2004 to July 2011 were published in A Review of the UK’s Extradition Arrangements in October 2011.
Lord Henley, Min of St for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour, Conservative
Full transcript

European Convention on Human Rights: House of Lords
The Government have not made an assessment whether UK law complies with the requirements of Protocol No 7 to the ECHR so as to enable ratification of the Protocol on behalf of the UK.
Lord McNally, Min of St for Justice, Lib Dem
Full transcript

European Court of Human Rights: House of Lords
In 2001 the then Government was ordered to pay a total of £120,000 in non-pecuniary damages and £105,000 costs and expenses in relation to the cases of Jordan, McKerr, Kelly and Others, and Shanaghan.
Lord Shutt of Greetland, Deputy Chief Whip, Lib Dem
Full transcript

Wed 2/5/2012

Asylum: Judiciary
In R (on the app of AM) v Sec of St for the Home Department, the Court of Appeal considered whether expert evidence relied upon by an asylum seeker amounted to ‘independent evidence’ of torture.
Judgment | UKHRB

Police Conduct: Media
Tasers are to be used by a further 160 police officers across Sussex.
BBC

Deportation: Media
Top judges at the ECtHR will meet on Wednesday 9 May to decide whether cleric Abu Qatada can appeal against deportation from the UK.
BBC | Guardian

Thurs 3/5/2012

Traffic: Judiciary
In Transport for London v Griffin & Ors, Transport for London have succeeded in their High Court application for an injunction restraining Addison Lee Taxis from encouraging drivers to use London bus lanes.
Judgment | UKHRB

Stop and Search: Media
Police are using stop and search powers disproportionately against black people without any adequate explanation, the High Court has been told.
BBC

Police Conduct: Media
Police officers who detained a distressed and mentally ill man in a cell for more than three days subjected him to ‘inhuman or degrading treatment’ the ECtHR has ruled.
Press release | Guardian

May 7, 2012 Off

Latest human rights developments in the UK: 23/4/2012 – 29/4/2012

By Justin Glenister in Weekly human rights updates

Mon 23/4/2012

European Court of Human Rights: House of Commons
An update was provided on the Government’s efforts to reform the ECtHR as part of the UK’s chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, including the implications of the Brighton declaration.
Kenneth Clarke, Sec of St for Justice, Conservative
Full transcript

Equality and Human Rights Commission: House of Commons
Representatives of the Scottish and Welsh Governments took part in the extensive engagement events that the Government Equalities Office held in March and April 2011 on the new information, advice and support system for victims of discrimination and human rights abuses and continues to have regular contact.
Lynne Featherstone, Under-Sec of St for Equalities, Lib Dem
Full transcript

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill: House of Lords
Final proposed amendments from the Commons were considered.
Full transcript

European Court of Human Rights: House of Commons
An update was provided on the Government’s efforts to reform the ECtHR as part of the UK’s chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, including the implications of the Brighton declaration.
Lord McNally, Min of St for Justice, Lib Dem
Full transcript

Asylum: Judiciary
In R (on the app of HA (Nigeria)) v Sec of St for the Home Department, the detention of a mentally ill person in an immigration removal centre amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment and false imprisonment, and was irrational the High Court has ruled.
Judgment | UKHRB

Deportation: Media
David Cameron has said that the Home Office checked the deadline date for Abu Qatada’s deportation appeal with the ECtHR.
BBC

Tues 24/4/2012

Deportation: House of Lords
The Government are clear that Abu Qatada has no right to refer the case to the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR since the three-month deadline to do so had lapsed.
Lord Henley, Min of St for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour, Conservative
Full transcript

Protection of Freedoms Bill: House of Lords
Final proposed amendments from the Commons were considered.
Full transcript

Equality and Human Rights Commission: House of Lords
The EHRC has exercised its power to apply for judicial review in one matter that involved alleged breaches of convention rights in EHRC v the Prime Minister and Ors. The EHRC’s claim did not succeed.
Baroness Verma, Government Whip, Conservative
Full transcript

Equality and Human Rights Commission: House of Lords
Details were provided of the EHRC’s expenditure on firstly, using its powers of assistance and strategic law enforcement to tackle unlawful discrimination and secondly, obtaining legal advice from external barristers, advocates and solicitors.
Baroness Verma, Government Whip, Conservative
Full transcript

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill: House of Commons
Final proposed amendments from the Lords were considered.
Full transcript

Political Advertising: Judiciary
In London Christian Radio Ltd and Anor v Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) and Secretary of State for Culture the High Court upheld the refusal of the broadcasting regulator to clear an advertisement for transmission on the grounds that it offended the prohibition on political advertising.
Judgment | UKHRB

Contempt of Court (NI): Media
A lawyer for the former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain has questioned whether the legal action against him over his autobiography is lawful.
BBC

Deportation: Media
Home Secretary Theresa May has said she was given ‘unambiguous’ legal advice about the deadline for an appeal over the deportation of Abu Qatada.
BBC

Wed 25/4/2012

Same-Sex Marriage: House of Commons
The Government will continue to consider any relevant court judgments as they arise in relation to UK Government policy.
Lynne Featherstone, Under-Sec of St for Equalities, Lib Dem
Full transcript

Healthcare: Judiciary
In Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, R (on the app of) v Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts and Anor, the Court of Appeal found there was nothing unlawful in the consultation process resulting in the Royal Brompton failing to be chosen as one of two specialist centres.
Judgment | UKHRB

Same-Sex Marriage: Media
The Roman Catholic church has written to every state-funded Catholic secondary school in England and Wales asking them to encourage pupils to sign a petition against gay marriage.
Guardian

Fri 27/4/2012

Right to Protest: Media
Rules preventing demonstrators sleeping near the Houses of Parliament have been upheld by the High Court in a landmark ruling.
BBC | Guardian

Public Access to Land: Media
Jeremy Clarkson has lost a legal battle in a dispute over public access to a path near his Isle of Man home.
BBC

Sat 28/4/2012

Immigration: Media
The government is to announce tough immigration requirements that would ban non-EU citizens who have been accused of serious human rights abuses, including torture or murder, from visiting the UK.
Guardian

Right to Protest: Media
Fifteen protesters arrested for a potential breach of the peace are taking the police to court for a judicial review to challenge the tactics used that day against a ‘hypothetical protest that had already been criminalised’.
Guardian

April 23, 2012 1

Latest human rights developments in the UK: 16/4/2012 – 22/4/2012

By Justin Glenister in Weekly human rights updates

*The House of Lords is adjourned for Easter and will return on Mon 23 April.*

Mon 16/4/2012

Prisoner Rights: Judiciary
In R (on the app of Ian Shutt and John Tetley) v Sec of St for Justice, the High Court ruled sexual offender prisoners were unlawfully denied certain privileges under prison rules.
Judgment | UKHRB

Corporate Responsibility: Media
Human rights and environmental pressure groups have joined forces to campaign against three sponsors of the London Olympics.
BBC

Extradition: Media
Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan is pressing the Home Secretary for Babar Ahmad to be charged in Britain instead of being extradited to the US to face terrorism charges.
Guardian

Deportation: Media
Theresa May is to announce she will not appeal against the ECtHR ruling blocking the deportation of Abu Qatada, with a deadline in the case set to pass at midnight.
Guardian

Tues 17/4/2012

Deportation: House of Commons
Officers from the UKBA have arrested and detained Abu Qatada and served notice that we are resuming his deportation in full compliance with the law. A detailed statement was made and discussion took place on the circumstances of Abu Qatada’s case.
Theresa May, Home Secretary, Conservative
Full transcript | BBC | Guardian

European Court of Human Rights: Media
The Government is ‘quietly confident’ it will secure changes to the ECtHR at a conference this week, Downing Street has said.
BBC

Wed 18/4/2012

Deportation: Media
Radical cleric Abu Qatada’s deportation has been thrown into doubt after the ECtHR said it had received a last-minute appeal.
BBC

Thurs 19/4/2012

Same-Sex Marriage: House of Commons
The Government published a formal consultation on 15 March , which considers how to enable same-sex couples to have a civil marriage. The timetable will enable us to make legislative changes before the end of this Parliament.
Lynne Featherstone, Under-Sec of St of St for Equalities, Lib Dem
Full transcript

Age Discrimination: House of Commons
A short discussion was had on the issue of age discrimination. It is the minister’s view that the provisions considered in discussions relating to the Equality Bill should still be pushed through. The issue of a gender pay gap was also touched upon.
Lynne Featherstone, Under-Sec of St of St for Equalities, Lib Dem
Full transcript

Deportation: House of Commons
A statement was made and discussion took place on the case of Abu Qatada who has applied for a referral of the judgment to the Grand Chamber. The Government are clear he has no right to refer the case but the ECtHR has no automatic mechanism to rule out an application.
Full transcript | BBC | Guardian

Asylum: House of Commons
Each asylum and human rights claim is considered on its own merits in accordance with the UKBA’s obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the ECHR.
Damian Green, Min of St for Immigration, Conservative
Full transcript

Equality and Human Rights Commission: House of Commons
The Government wants the EHRC to become a valued and respected national institution and will be publishing its response to the consultation last year ‘Building a Fairer Britain: Reform of the EHRC’ shortly setting out how it plans to proceed.
Lynne Featherstone, Under-Sec of St of St for Equalities, Lib Dem
Full transcript

Religious Freedom: House of Commons
The Government believes that domestic law already strikes the right balance between the rights of employees to manifest their faith and that of employers to place legitimate and appropriate restrictions on that freedom. There are no currently plans to change the law in this respect.
Lynne Featherstone, Under-Sec of St of St for Equalities, Lib Dem
Full transcript

European Court of Human Rights: Media
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said an agreement reached at a conference in Brighton will make ‘a big difference’ to the ECtHR.
BBC | Guardian | UKHRB

Deportation: Media
Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed that radical cleric Abu Qatada will be deported from the UK to face trial in Jordan’ however long it takes, however many difficulties there are along the way’.
BBC

Fri 20/4/2012

Deportation: Media
The Government will resist any application for bail by radical cleric Abu Qatada, Downing Street has said.
BBC | Guardian

Abortion: Media
Two Roman Catholic midwives who lost a legal battle to avoid taking part in abortion procedures have appealed against the decision.
BBC

Sat 21/4/2012

Deportation: Media
Government attempts to deport the radical cleric Abu Qatada face becoming embroiled in possibly years of legal argument, threatening to further embarrass the Home Secretary.
Guardian

Sun 22/4/2012

European Court of Human Rights: Media
Ken Clarke has said changes to the ECtHR will reduce ‘frustration’ over cases such as the proposed deportation of Abu Qatada.
BBC

April 16, 2012 2

Latest human rights developments in the UK: 9/4/2012 – 15/4/2012

By Justin Glenister in Weekly human rights updates

*The House of Commons and House of Lords are now adjourned for Easter. The House of Commons will return on Mon 16 April and the House of Lords on Mon 23 April.*

Mon 9/4/2012

Prisoner Rights (Scot): Media
Scotland’s chief inspector of prisons has expressed his disappointment that the Scottish Government took his comments out of context to support their proposals to disband the country’s historic visiting committees.
Herald Scotland

Tues 10/4/2012

Extradition: Judiciary
Im Babar Ahmad and Ors v UK, the EctHR has found that five men accused of serious terrorist activities can be extradited from the UK to the US to face trial, including Abu Hamza and Babar Ahmad.
Judgment | Press release | BBC | UKHRB

Deportation: Judiciary
In Balogan v UK the EctHR rejected a case of a man facing deportation despite having lived in the UK since the age of three.
Judgment | UKHRB

Secret Justice (Justice and Security Green Paper): Media
David Cameron and Nick Clegg have been involved in pointed exchanges across eight time zones over controversial government plans to monitor emails and allow judges to sit in secret in some trials.
Guardian

Wed 11/4/2012

Rendition: Media
A Federal judge has blocked the request from a UK parliamentary committee for documents relating to British involvement in rendition.
Guardian

Sat 14/4/2012

Religious Discrimination: Media
Christians are being ‘persecuted’ and ‘driven underground’ while the courts fail to protect their religious values, former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has claimed.
BBC | Guardian

Right to Protest: Media
The six-month anniversary of the Occupy Nottingham camp has been marked.
BBC

April 9, 2012 Off

Latest human rights developments in the UK: 2/4/2012 – 8/4/2012

By Justin Glenister in Weekly human rights updates

*The House of Commons and House of Lords are now adjourned for Easter. The House of Commons will return on Mon 16 April and the House of Lords on Mon 23 April.*

Mon 2/4/2012

Secret Justice (Justice and Security Green Paper): Media
The Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights has responded to the Government’s consultation on the proposals set out in their Justice and Security Green Paper.
Report | BBC | UKHRB

Deportation: Judiciary
In R (on the app of Amada Bizimana) v Sec of St for the Home Department, the Court of Appeal ruled where the prospect of deporting a detainee within a reasonable period has become unlikely due to difficulties establishing his nationality, continued detention becomes unlawful.
Judgment | UKHRB

Surveillance: Media
Senior Lib Dem MPs are threatening to rebel over the coalition government’s plans to extend the powers of the security services to monitor the public’s email, telephone calls and social media communications.
Guardian

Tues 3/4/2012

Equality and Human Rights Commission: Media
The Home Office is lining up A4e to take over the EHRC helpline to advise people of their rights in discrimination cases, despite the jobs agency being at the centre of a fraud inquiry, according to the investigative website Exaro.
Guardian

Surveillance: Media
Plans to introduce new laws to give GCHQ real-time access to data over Skype, instant messages and web-based email have prompted 16 Lib Dem MPs – more than a quarter of the parliamentary party – to write an open letter warning of the potential dangers.
Letter | Guardian

Wed 4/4/2012

Secret Justice (Justice and Security Green Paper): Media
The government is to scale back plans to create a new generation of secret courts after Nice Clegg wrote to cabinet colleagues to criticise the proposals as unacceptable in their present form.
Guardian

Secret Justice (Justice and Security Green Paper): Media
David Cameron has defended plans to create a new generation of secret courts and to extend powers to monitor the public’s emails, phone calls and social media communications, saying the government needed to take every step to keep the country safe.
Guardian

Thurs 5/4/2012

UK Human Rights Blog: Media
The UK Human Rights Blog launched on 30 March 2010 and this week celebrates its 2nd birthday. Adam Wagner takes a moment to reflect on its success.
UKHRB

Terrorism / Extradition: Media
Following a High Court ruling allowing them access, the BBC conducted an interview with Babar Ahmad at Long Lartin Prison. In days he will discover his fate as the ECtHR decides whether he – and other terrorism suspects – can be extradited to the US.
BBC

Right to Protest: Media
A legal battle over the Nottingham Occupy protest camp must go to a full trial a judge at Nottingham County Court has ruled.
BBC

Sun 8/4/2012

Immigration / Deportation: Media
New immigration rules are to be introduced to make it more difficult for foreign criminals to resist deportation by invoking Article 8. Home Secretary Theresa May announced that changes will be in place by summer to make clear the ECHR can only be used as a bar to deportation in ‘rare and exceptional cases’.
Guardian

April 3, 2012 1

The court’s inherent jurisdiction: involvement in decisions of mentally capacitous, but vulnerable, individuals

By Leon Glenister in Court of Protection

Leon Glenister recently worked on a Court of Protection case concerning the inherent jurisdiction of the Court over an adult with capacity

Until the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (‘MCA’), the Court used its inherent jurisdiction to make decisions on behalf of mentally incapacitated individuals. The MCA was enacted to provide a regime for the court to make these decisions, with a definition provided in section 2 on who lacks capacity.

However, under the MCA incapacity relates to the “mind or brain”. But what about those adults who have mental capacity and therefore are outside the scope of the MCA, but are vulnerable in another way, perhaps due to undue influence or duress? The example that has often come before the courts is a young person being pressured into an arranged marriage. Whether the Court should intervene on behalf of these adults is a key policy decision relating to the court paternalism. Judges are only too keen not to pass judgment over an unwise, rather than an incapacitous, decision.

After the passing of the MCA, the first question was whether the inherent jurisdiction of the court in this area survived. It is now clear it has, most recently stated in A Local Authority v DL [2012] EWCA Civ 253. The sum of the case law seems to be that the inherent jurisdiction can be used as a ‘holding mechanism’ to ensure there is no undue external pressure when a vulnerable person who is capacitous makes a certain decision.

In Re SA [2006] 1 FLR 867 (explicitly approved of in DL), Munby J used the jurisdiction to prevent influence from a family arranging a marriage for a girl. Munby J stated the inherent jurisdiction can be used on behalf of a vulnerable adult where they are reasonably believed to be, either (i) under constraint or (ii) subject to coercion or undue influence or (iii) for some other reason deprived of the capacity to make the relevant decision, or disabled from making a free choice, or incapacitated or disabled from giving or expressing a real and genuine consent”. As such, the inherent jurisdiction can be used where there is capacity but no autonomy.

This dicta was recently interpreted by Bodey J in Mrs A and Mr A [2010] EWHC 1549 (Fam). He gave the impression the jurisdiction was temporary, or to put it another way, a ‘holding mechanism’. The purpose of the inherent jurisdiction is to create a situation where [the vulnerable person] can receive outside help free of coercion, to enable him or her to weigh things up and decide freely what he or she wishes to do.” Implicit in this statement is the view that it should not be used for extended periods – just enough to allow the vulnerable person to make an autonomous decision.

The court remains concerned not to pass judgment over unwise decisions. In Re SA, Munby J stated it is no part of the court’s function…to decide whether it is in a person’s best interests to marry. But that does not…mean that the court…is debarred from considering whether it is their best interests to be exposed to an ineffective betrothal or marriage. Nor does it prevent the court concluding that such events would not be in their best interests and therefore should be prevented.”

Crucially, in terms of policy, Munby emphasized the decision was not paternalistic, rather it was to enhance the vulnerable person’s autonomy and independence: By taking this course, far from depriving SA of her right to make decisions I am ensuring, as best I can, that she has the best possible chance of future happiness”.

To answer the title issue, the court has stopped short of making decisions for mentally capacitous but vulnerable adults. However, it has used its inherent jurisdiction to support these individuals to make an autonomous decision. Where it is invoked, the Court may make orders preventing certain people contacting, or persuading, the vulnerable person on certain issues. However, because of the danger of paternalism, judges are reluctant to use it for an extended period.

April 2, 2012 Off

Latest human rights developments in the UK: 25/3/2012 – 1/4/2012

By Justin Glenister in Weekly human rights updates

Tues 26/3/2012

Control Orders: Media
More than 20 men suspected of involvement in Islamic terrorism were sent into internal exile across the UK under the now-defunct system of ‘preventative’ control orders, a report says.
Guardian

Wed 27/3/2012

Disability Strategy: House of Lords
The Government are currently developing a new disability strategy, taking the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as its basis. A UK-wide high-level action plan is not necessary to meet our Convention obligations.
Lord Freud, Under-Sec of St for Work and Pensions, Conservative
Full transcript

Equality Act: House of Lords
There has been contact between officials and the EHRC relating to the publication of further statutory codes of practice on further and higher education, schools and the public sector duty which the EHRC has prepared in draft.
Baroness Verma, Government Whip, Conservative
Full transcript

Equality Act: House of Lords
The advice for school leaders, staff, governing bodies and local authorities on the Department for Education website has been reviewed and amended. A revised version will be available on the website in the next few days.
Lord Hill of Oareford, Under-Sec of St for Schools and Education, Conservative
Full transcript

European Court of Human Rights: House of Lords
The list of candidates for the office of next judge at the ECtHR in respect to the UK was drawn up by an independent selection panel following an open selection. The first list recommended was endorsed by the Government without any changes being sought.
Lord McNally, Min of St for Justice, Lib Dem
Full transcript

European Court of Human Rights: House of Lords
The Government are not considering a written intervention in the case of Vejdeland and Ors v Sweden.
Lord McNally, Min of St for Justice, Lib Dem
Full transcript

Extradition: Media
Campaigners say a mother’s human rights would be breached and her son could be put into care if she is extradited to Poland over a drugs offence.
BBC

Thurs 28/3/2012

Equality and Human Rights Commission: House of Lords
The current chair’s term ends in September and the Government will make an announcement on the arrangements for recruiting a new one in due course. Figures were also provided on the number of EHRC staff employed as legal advisors.
Baroness Verma, Government Whip, Conservative
Full transcript

Fri 29/3/2012

Judicial Review: Judiciary
In Berky, R v Newport City Council, the Court of Appeal held a defendant to a judicial review involving a European point of law may not complain proceedings were not commenced promptly when they were commenced within the 3 month time limit.
Judgment | UKHRB

Citizenship: Judiciary
In Hilal Abdul-Razzaq Ali Al-Jedda v Sec of St for the Home Department, the Court of Appeal has allowed the suspected terrorist Al-Jedda’s appeal against the Home Secretary’s decision to deprive him of his British nationality.
Judgment | UKHRB

Extradition: Media
The director of human rights group Liberty Shami Chakrabarti has condemned the planned extradition to the U.S.of a Sheffield University student accused of copyright infringement.
BBC

Military Conduct: Media
Military commanders have disciplined a further four British soldies accused of killing or wounding Afghan civilians.
Guardian

Sat 30/3/2012

Prison Segregation: Judiciary
In Bourgass and Ors v Sec of St for Justice, the Court of Appeal looked into the question of how decisions to segregate are made, including the initial decision, the review of the decision and ultimately judicial review, in a human rights context.
UKHRB

Extradition: Judiciary
In Government of the Republic of South Africa v Shrien Dewani, the extradition to South Africa of Shrien Dewani, the man accused of murdering his wife on honeymoon there in 2010, has been delayed pending an improvement in his mental health.
Judgment | UKHRB

Mental Health: Media
A teenager with severe autism was locked in a padded room on a frequent basis in an attempt to control his behaviour, it has been revealed.
BBC

March 31, 2012 Off

Identity in a Post-Racial society

By Dónal Kearney in Miscellaneous

The outgoing head of the Church of England, Dr. Rowan Williams, has spoken out on the impact of identity politics in 21st century United Kingdom. Acknowledging the importance of civil liberty activism since the 1990s, the Archbishop of Canterbury announced that, “identity politics is all very well but we have to have some way of putting it all back together again and discovering what is good for all of us and share something of who we are with each other so as to discover more about who we are.”

Does this mean to encourage a compromise in 21st century British identity? Perhaps, Dr. Williams wishes us to come out from behind our self-made individuality, and merge together in the common good. This may sound like a reference to the ‘Big Society’ message espoused by a 2012 Downing Street, especially with the Archbishop highlighting the apparent risk of “really fragmenting the society we belong to” through an insular attitude to community relations. Commentators have labelled this language as “divisive” and a “warning shot” targeting movements in support of gay rights, feminism and anti-racist campaigns. Indeed, protection of identity diversity within the United Kingdom today is a balancing act between civil liberty and a sense of collective value; if we are better together, we should construct a unified society.

The problem with this is that identities evolved as a defence mechanism against exclusion from that very society Dr. Williams refers to. The unprovoked drunken racism of Liam Stacey (“so noxious… that no newspaper has the stomach to publish it”) warranted a 56-day prison sentence. In recent times, there have been several instances of such a proactive approach to limiting casual racism as a means of combating the expansion of identity politics. The horrifying outburst and indecency of Emma West on the Croydon-Wimbledon Tramlink in November is another example of an attack on a minority group. It involved a complaint about multiculturalism in 21st century UK. The British identity has been altered through immigration, just as it was through colonisation. Identity naturally evolves, but those of a conservative attitude are invariably more resistant to such change and wish to exclude those considered outside the ‘us’.

After West’s tirade was broadcast on www.youtube.com (the video has now been removed), she was charged with, and pleaded not guilty to, two counts of racially aggravated abuse. Issues of free speech and of racial abuse are often juxtaposed in the UK media, with different groups vying for recognition of their respective identities. The 2010 incident of the airport bomb Tweet and the breaching of high-profile super-injunctions in the summer proved the difficulty with policing modern technology, and Stacey’s comments have reopened this discussion in the context of racism. Free speech in a 21st century democracy is being challenged daily as the manner of informal interpersonal communication evolves at an incredible rate. Race relations in the UK too are advancing within a so-called “new post-racial nation”, as competing identities demand observation of their rights with heightening public awareness thereof. The question arises whether established approaches to combating racism should be imposed on new, digital forms of ‘socialising’. As identity changes alongside the changing nature of ‘inclusivity’ (social networking), what it means to belong is no longer black and white.

Jean-Paul Guerlain, of Guerlain perfume brand, said in a 2010 interview on national television that he had worked liked a “negre” (a racial slur on people of African descent) in developing the ‘Samsara’ scent. A Paris court on Thursday sentenced Guerlain with a €6000 fine and found him guilty of racial insults. France’s increasingly post-racial stance on governance, and its treatment of ethnic minorities, raises its own challenges for identity politics. There are lessons to be learned from across the Channel. With the Archbishop’s warnings about the risk of identity politics overpowering community relations to the point of societal breakdown in the UK, it is for us to create forms of promoting cohesion that do not compromise individuality or free speech. Rather, we must respect diversity – in ethnicity, gender and sexuality – and embrace new models of social involvement and inclusivity, as provided by social networks, in our search for a shared identity.

March 26, 2012 Off

Latest human rights developments in the UK: 19/3/2012 – 25/3/2012

By Justin Glenister in Weekly human rights updates

Mon 19/3/2012

Equality and Human Rights Commission (Scot): House of Commons
The location of the EHRC offices is an operational matter for the organisation to consider.
David Mundell, Under-Sec of Scotland, Conservative
Full transcript

Freedom of Expression: Judiciary
In Lord Carlisle and Ors v Sec of St for the Home Department, the High Court has upheld an order by the Home Secretary preventing Maryam Rajavi, a prominent Iranian dissident, from speaking in Parliament.
Judgment | UKHRB

Immigration: Judiciary
In JD (Congo) and Ors v Sec of St for the Home Department and Public Law Project intervening, the Court of Appeal has considered the test for the second stage of appeal in immigration cases, when someone wishes to appeal from the Upper Tribunal.
Judgment | UKHRB

Tues 20/3/2012

European Convention of Human Rights: House of Commons
There are currently 90 pending cases communicated to the UK from the ECtHR. The vast majority of applications against the UK are not communicated and struck out by the Court directly. There were about 3,800 pending applications against the UK on 31 January 2012.
Dominic Grieve, Attorney-General, Conservative
Full transcript

Freedom of Information: Judiciary
In Kennedy v Charity Commission et al, the Court of Appeal considered the extent of the state obligation to provide journalists with documents.
Judgment | UKHRB

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders: House of Commons
Line by line examination of the Bill took place during the fifth day of report stage.  Third reading – a final chance to amend the Bill – is scheduled for 27 March.
Full transcript

Schools (Specification and Disposal of Articles) Regulations 2012: House of Lords
Revised department advice to schools will explain teachers’ obligations under Article 8 and remind them that pupils have a right to expect a reasonable level of personal privacy. The revised advice will be published on 1 April.
Lord Hill of Oareford, Under-Sec of St for Schools, Conservative
Full transcript

Extradition: Judiciary
In Wright v Argentina, the High Court has found that a pregnant British citizen cannot be extradited to Argentina to be tried for a drug smuggling offence because she would face inhuman and degrading treatment in the Argentinian prison system.
Judgment | BBC | Guardian | UKHRB

Military Conduct: Media
An Afghan man detained by British troops who handed him over to an Afghan jail where he says he was brutally tortured is demanding a high court judicial inquiry into the way he was treated.
Guardian

Wed 21/3/2012

European Court of Human Rights: House of Lords
The list of candidates for the office of the UK judge of the ECtHR has been forwarded for consideration by the Advisory Panel of Experts on Candidates for Election as Judge to the ECtHR. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has requested the list by 13 April 2012.
Lord McNally, Min of St for Justice, Lib Dem
Full transcript

Freedom of Expression: Judiciary
In Flood v Times Newspapers Ltd, the Supreme Court has allowed the appeal of Times Newspapers against a decision of the Court of Appeal which had held that it could not rely on Reynolds qualified privilege in relation to the publication of an article about the claimant.
Judgment | UKHRB

Thurs 22/3/2012

Equality Act 2010: House of Lords
The decision of the EHRC to publish some current Codes of Practice in the form of non-statutory guidance is a matter for the commission.
Baroness Verma, Government Whip, Conservative
Full transcript

Freedom of Speech: House of Lords
We have a long tradition of free speech however we have to balance the right to freedom of speech with the need to prevent actions which intimidate, threaten violence or incite others to hatred.  The Government do not intervene in operational police matters.
Baroness Verma, Government Whip, Conservative
Full transcript

Stop and Search: Media
Police have ceased using anti-terrorism stop and search powers, figures from the Home Office show.
Bulletin | BBC

Adoption (NI): Media
The current ban on gay and unmarried couples should remain in place until the Stormont Assembly decides otherwise, the Attorney General has said.
BBC

Fri 23/3/2012

Deportation: Media
The Home Secretary Theresa May says she is still working to obtain assurances from Jordan that will enable the deportation of the radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada.
BBC

Race Equality: Media
Race issues are in danger of ‘dropping off the agenda’ the departing chief executive of an Ipswich charity has warned. Jane Basham said she was stepping down from her role with the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality due to cuts in grants.
BBC