UK parliament votes to extend same-sex marriage and abortion access in Northern Ireland
July 10, 2019
The UK Parliament on Tuesday voted in favor of two amendments that will compel the British government to legalize same-sex marriage and liberalize abortion in Northern Ireland (NI), if NI cannot reestablish its devolved government before October 21, 2019.
NI is the only province in the country that does not allow same-sex marriage and forbids abortion except when the mother’s life is at risk. The amended Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill is subject to a future executive who could potentially overturn or amend the law.
In June 2018 the UK Supreme Court found NI’s abortion law incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to respect for one’s private and family life) but ultimately held that, because the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission did not have standing to bring the challenge, the court did not have the power to declare the need to change the law.
UK commits to ending greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
June 14, 2019
The UK government has been under increasing pressure to address its role in global climate change in recent weeks, as a series of highly public protests and sit-ins disrupted travel and business across London. Calling themselves the Extinction Rebellion, the student-led group demanded that the country commit to aggressively combating climate change, including the elimination of greenhouse gasses by 2025. While May’s proposed plan is less ambitious, the legislation is among the first of its kind proposed by the largest countries in the world. In her press release, May said that Britain “led the world in innovation during the Industrial Revolution, and now we must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth.”
The UN recently published a report showing that human-caused climate change is worsening at an increasing rate and imploring world governments to act quickly to try to mitigate the effects. Likewise, in November a group of 13 US agencies released the Fourth National Climate Assessment, finding that climate change will have profound effects over the next century unless drastic action is quickly undertaken.
UK Supreme Court rules intelligence activities subject to judicial review
May 16, 2019
Prior to the ruling, IPT decisions could only be appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.
The IPT was established in 2000 to provide an avenue for redress for anyone who feels that they have been subject to “unlawful action by a public authority using covert investigative techniques.” Although officially independent, the IPT has been criticized for its perceived relationships with the institutions over which it holds jurisdiction.
The UK Supreme Court was deciding a case involving a 2016 ruling in which the IPT decided that government hacking did not violate human rights. The original suit was brought by Privacy International, a UK based non-profit that works to promote privacy rights internationally, in response to the Edward Snowden disclosures about the UK’s digital surveillance program.
Lord Carnwath, writing for the majority, concluded, “Consistent application of the rule of law requires such an issue to be susceptible in appropriate cases to review by ordinary courts.” The Government had argued that IPT rulings were not subject to judicial review, because the Act of Parliament had removed such issues from the Judiciary’s authority. Carnwath ultimately rejected this argument, writing: “It is ultimately for the courts, not the legislature, to determine the limits set by the rule of law to the power to exclude review.”
The court’s ruling does not establish whether the UK’s surveillance program is legal, but allows further suits to be brought before the court.
ICJ urges UK to end rule over Chagos islands
February 26, 2019
The UK and Mauritius, by virtue of the Lancaster House agreement, detached the Chagos Archipelago form Mauritius and established the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). Originally, the agreement aided the US’s desire for a military base on Diego Garcia, but the UK has continued to assert control over the island. Many inhabitants were forcibly removed, and those who left voluntarily were prevented from returning.
The ICJ’s opinion, which is nonbinding, says the UK did not lawfully decolonize the islands through the Lancaster House agreement. The court further urged the UK to end its continued administration over Chagos Archipelago: “the United Kingdom has an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible, and that all Member States must cooperate with the United Nations to complete the decolonization of Mauritius.”
The opinion follows requests from the UN General Assembly and Mauritius to return Chagos Archipelago to the country and end British control.
Europe rights court to hear challenge to UK bulk data collection
February 05, 2019
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) agreed Monday to hear a challenge to the bulk data surveillance regime employed by UK intelligence agencies.
A lower chamber of the court ruled in September that the UK’s surveillance practices violated human rights law but ruled that the process of bulk data collection itself did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights. Now, the groups behind the challenge are seeking a definitive ruling against bulk collection from the ECHR’s highest chamber. The civil and digital groups and charities include Liberty, Privacy International and Amnesty International.
In the September hearing, the lower chamber of the court ruled that the data collection (or interception) regime violated European Convention on Human Rights Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life/communications) and Article 10 (the right to freedom of expression and information).
However, the lower chamber declined to call the regime unlawful on the grounds of being “general and indiscriminate” retention of data. The groups behind the new challenge argue that the lower chamber dd not go far enough, and that an overarching judgment is needed to fundamentally change the way the UK approaches the collection and surveillance of personal data.
Caroline Wilson Palow, general counsel at Privacy International, called on the court to “reject these mass surveillance practices and find that they are fundamentally incompatible with the rights to privacy and freedom of expression enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.”
The future of the challenge is uncertain, as the wait for a hearing from the Grand Chamber could take several years. In addition, it is uncertain whether the UK will still be party to the ECHR by that time given the country’s efforts to exit the EU. While the ECHR is separate from the EU, some in the UK’s Conservative party have advocated pulling out of the Convention in addition.
Fuente: La Información
España, entre los primeros países que ratifica el Tratado de Comercio de Armas
13 (EUROPA PRESS) Las Cortes han ratificado este jueves por unanimidad el Tratado de Comercio de Armas, convirtiendo a España en “uno de los primeros países” que asume esta nueva regulación internacional, según ha destacado el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación. “España muestra así su compromiso con la comunidad internacional para establecer un marco normativo internacional, jurídicamente vinculante, que regule el comercio de armas convencionales”, ha destacado en un comunicado el departamento que dirige José Manuel García-Margallo. El Tratado de Comercio de Armas establece un patrón universal basado en reglas internacionales de carácter vinculante para las exportaciones de armamento, que serán aplicadas por las autoridades nacionales de los Estados parte del Tratado. El Tratado tiene como objetivo evitar que el comercio internacional de armas convencionales deriven en actos ilícitos y violaciones de los derechos humanos. España ha participado activamente en este proceso desde su inicio, y de forma concertada con los Estados miembros de la Unión Europea. Además, impulsará “activamente” su entrada en vigor con “el convencimiento de que constituirá un instrumento fundamental para reforzar la seguridad internacional, la defensa del derecho internacional humanitario y el respeto de los derechos humanos”, destaca Exteriores en su nota. Leer el resto de esta entrada »
In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of women’s formal entry into the British legal profession, two scholars invite others to join them in a Women’s Legal Landmarks Project.
This multiyear project aims to produce, via a series of workshops to be held in Britain and Ireland, 1,000-to-6,000-word essays on women’s achievements in the law. An excerpt from the call for interest produced by the organizers, Professor Rosemary Auchmuty, University of Reading School of Law, and Professor Erika Rackley, Durham Law School:
‘[T]his project aims to bring together interested feminist scholars to engage in the process of identifying and writing about key legal landmarks for women. These might be one or a series of cases, a statute or campaign, an individual, a monument or event. The landmark must be significant for feminists, even if it only had an impact on a group of women. Indeed, it may not have been positive at the time, yet turned out to be a catalyst for change. The landmark may be well-known or less familiar. We are focusing on legal landmarks in the UK and Ireland and hope to cover a broad range of substantive topics. Our goal is the production of a number of outputs celebrating women’s legal history, reaching both a scholarly and a general audience.
‘Possible landmarks could include: the Contagious Diseases Acts 1864-6; the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in Victoria Tower Gardens; The Well of Loneliness trial; Williams & Glyn’s Bank v Boland ; S41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act; the appointment of Lady Hale.’