Tag Archives: Human Rights

By Richard Howitt MEP

Richard Howitt, Labour Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

Richard Howitt, Labour Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

“Killing people to show people that killing people is wrong.”

It should be the very definition of insanity but it is, in fact, a criminal punishment that remains on statute books around the world.

But it gets worse, because the death penalty is used in Saudi Arabia for adultery, in North Korea for theft and in numerous countries, from Pakistan to Indonesia, as a punishment for drugs offences.

This is despite the fact that use of the death penalty for anything less than “serious offences” is illegal under international law.

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ECHRby Joseph Markus

This comment concerns two recent cases decided by the European Court of Human Rights. Those cases are Babar Ahmad and Others v the United Kingdom (2013) 56 EHRR 1, [2012] ECHR 609 and Vinter and Others v the United Kingdom [2013] ECHR 645. The second of these – Vinter – was decided by the Grand Chamber of the Court on 9 July following a hearing in November last year.

These two cases grapple with starkly similar issues, albeit there is one distinguishing feature. In Babar Ahmad, the applicants faced extradition; in Vinter they did not.

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Theresa-May_1716248cby Joseph Markus

In short, the answer has got to be no.

Theresa May – who is known for advocating withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights and from the jurisdiction of its court – is taking too much from what is really the limited significance of all this. What looks to be taking place is that she is using the deportation as a political football under the cover of the handy cross-party unity over whether it was – broadly defined – “a good thing”.

Let’s take each of her claims in turn.

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border2-thumbnailby Joseph Markus

Contrary to what the BBC has been reporting (it’s now fixed it), the High Court on Friday 5 July upheld claims that aspects of the new Immigration Rules – contained in an Appendix FM to the Rules – fell foul of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In particular, what Mr Justice Blake decided, in a long and detailed judgment, was that the range of new financial requirements for spouses coming to join their partners in the UK (who in this case were either refugees or British citizens) were more than was necessary for the legitimate end of managing migration.

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grayling_2196719bby Sarah Walker

The UK government and their sympathetic media would have you believe that current legal aid provisions allow unpopular members of our society to greedily grab what they can get, much like an unsupervised child at a pick ‘n’ mix. The truth is that this government is systematically dismantling a safeguard of access to justice that is essential if we are to ensure that the rights of vulnerable members of society are protected.

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by Joseph Markus

A human right to wear a cross?

Today a Chamber of the Fourth Section of the European Court of Human Rights released its judgment in the much-anticipated cluster of cases, Eweida and Others v. the United Kingdom. These cases courted controversy in the domestic courts due to what many on both sides of the debate saw as an important and apparently irresoluble conflict between the rights to manifest religious belief and the rights to non-discrimination held by, in these cases, homosexual individuals. Put into legal terms: the cases were about the alleged conflict between the rights of the applicants under Articles 9 and 14 of the Convention and the rights of others (broadly speaking – though never explicitly defined as – falling under Articles 8 and 14).

Four applicants meant four distinct groups of facts, although a number of common threads.

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commission_bruntland_25koby Joseph Markus

Ever since the early 1990s the international development consensus has fixed itself to the idea that development can be achieved alongside human rights. For even longer – at least since the Brundtland Commission report in 1987 – the development community has also essentially, though at times uncomfortably, embraced the parallel concept of “sustainable development”.

Unlike human rights, however, quite what sustainable development means in any given context is pretty unclear. Perhaps driven by the perception that human rights don’t need to challenge the prevailing political-economic consensus – while sustainable development could – we have had Millennium Development Goals addressing human rights since 2000 (along with one goal addressing sustainability that has been far from successful). Conversely the international community has only just got round to considering which Sustainable Development Goals it might like to see in writing, for the first time placing sustainability front and centre.

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