McCann v UK – 20 years on (politicians and press react) #echr

gibI thought that the readers of this blog might be interested in the extracts that follow from the Daily Mail, 20 years ago yesterday (28 Sep 1995). The newspaper was reporting on the famous, and indeed controversial McCann v UK (‘Gibraltar shootings’ case). If I recall correctly, The Sun’s headline was ‘The Euro-Clown Court’. (See also The Independent’s reporting here, this BBC site for historical interest, and click on the picture for the 1988 ITV documentary ‘Death on the Rock’ [which concerns the shootings, not the Strasbourg case]).

In McCann the Court, by 10 votes to 9, Continue reading


The Prisoner Voting Saga… Stocktaking/ the story so far

pris_vot_aspxThe prisoner voting saga has become so complex and convoluted that I thought a quick summary of where we are at could be timely. At the risk of oversimplification this post attempts this. It also reports upon the background to and the significance of the recent Committee of Ministers’ decision with respect to the UK’s continued failure to implement Hirst v UK (and ensuing case law). (At the risk of a shameless plug, for a detailed account of the prisoner voting saga, the surrounding Strasbourg case law, how the government of the day and then the Court have reacted, see my article in Human Rights Law Review – here).

In what follows, I will (1) provide an overview of the initial UK stance against prisoner voting, then (2) address (again in overview) how the matter has been the subject of detailed consideration by a Parliamentary Committee in the UK, concluded with a Report which also drew attention to (3) the bigger issues at stake, i.e. the UK’s relationship with Strasbourg. In the final section (4), I will report on the Committee of Ministers’ recent decision as noted above. With this background post in  place, I will post again on this matter in a week or so. Continue reading

Is the European Convention Working? Grieve advocates before Faculty of Advocates

Excellent post by David Scott on UKHumanRightsblog, reporting the recent speech delivered by former Atttorney General, Dominic Grieve, entitled ‘Is the European Convention Working’.

Just for info, a similar lecture was delivered by Grieve in Dec 2014,

UK Human Rights Blog

crop-dominic-grieve_39562a1Less than 48 hours before First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s speech in Glasgow (see our coverage here), another rousing defence of the Convention was launched in Scotland. Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve addressed the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh on the 21st September, posing the question “Is the European Convention Working?”, and in reply giving an outstanding analysis of the reasons why the UK must remain within the Convention (full transcript available here).

In the interest of brevity, this post shall skim over the more “standard” defences of the Convention – highlighting the various historical “success stories”, the more serious situations in other states in comparison to the UK, the effective existing dialogue between domestic courts and Strasbourg, problems of EU membership and devolution agreements (of which we have previously discussed here) – and instead focus on the more interesting arguments he makes: namely, the important interactions between…

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New President of the Strasbourg Court #echr

Guido-Raimondi-300x190The Strasbourg Court has issued a Press Release today explaining that, with effect from 1 Nov 2015, the Court’s new President will be Judge Guido Raimondi (Italy, pictured). He was elected by a secret ballot of the Court. Further details of this, and in respect of President-elect  Raimondi can be found here.

With the Court sometimes criticised as being too academic and less attentive to the needs of government/ the State (a criticism that has never been backed by solid evidence, as far as I am aware) it is interesting to observe that, according to Judge Raimondi’s c.v., he started off life as an academic but then played significant roles on behalf of government. That is, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the mid–to-late 1980s, after which he was, for a decade, Co-Agent for the Italian Government before the European Court and Commission of Human Rights, after which he gained experience as a Member of various Council of Europe Steering Committees and Committees of Experts.

He has been a member of the Court since 2010 (and, obviously, now sits in an individual and impartial capacity).

Further details on previous Presidents of the Court (including the current president, Dean Spielmann (Luxembourg)) may be found here.

The UK and Strasbourg: two recent articles in ‘Public Law’ #echr

Two recent articles in the leading UK journal on Constitutional and Administrative law (“Public Law”) may be of interest to readers of this blog.

blomcooperlouisIn an article (in fact, it is the text of a lecture delivered at Kings College London earlier this year) entitled ‘The Road to Rome and Strasbourg via San Francisco: Human Rights in Charters and Declarations’ (P.L. 2015, Oct, 571-582), Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC provides a reappraisal of the origins of human rights law, playing up the significance of the international instruments such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the ECHR, and playing down the relative importance of the Magna Carta. He also argues that, contrary to popular belief, the British did not draft the Convention, suggesting that Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe had a relatively limited role (on this, and with respect, I would agree that Sir David’s role has been over-stated, but also argue that the British hand in the drafting of the substantive text of the Convention (and other aspects) was very significant indeed; see especially chapter 4 in E Bates, The Evolution of the European Convention on Human Rights, OUP, 2010).

Sir Louis proceeds to provide a strong defence of the Convention and the Strasbourg Court, as well as the Human Rights Act. Continue reading

Baroness Hale: ‘Protecting Human Rights in the UK Courts: What are we doing wrong?’ #echr

Baroness HaleBaroness Hale delivered the above lecture at Melbourne Law School, Trinity College, earlier this week. The lecture can be listened to here and we wait to see if it will appear (in text form) on the UK Supreme Court Speeches web site (here).

It is a highly informative lecture, mainly covering the current HRA landscape, in particular how the HRA regime functions, and it includes some interesting comments on more recent cases, including ‘the Lord Carlile case’ and the discrimination/ student loans case.

On human rights and democracy: it’s time to change the tune about Strasbourg

On human rights and democracy: it’s time to change the tune about Strasbourg

Very interesting and informative piece by Dr Alice Donald here…

Middlesex Minds

Alice Donald Middlesex UniversityMiddlesex University Senior Lecturer Dr Alice Donald, an expert on human rights, argues that rather than distancing themselves from Strasbourg, British politicians need to engage more closely with the European Court.

A debate has taken hold in the UK that portrays human rights – and especially the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg – as a threat to democracy. How can it be right, the critics ask, for unaccountable foreign judges to dictate to democratically-elected institutions what they must or must not do, especially when such interventions tie the hands of politicians seeking to tackle crime and terrorism? This argument is the basis for proposals of the Conservative Party to weaken the authority of the Strasbourg Court by making its judgments merely advisory in respect of the UK (rather than legally binding, as they currently are for all 47 states of the Council of Europe), and to withdraw from the European Convention…

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