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News Round-Up Week Ending 3.10.14

(Posted on 03/10/14)


Baron Sees Red on Rights

In an article in Counsel, the legal trade publication, former lord chief justice Baron Judge calls the European Court of Human Rights “undemocratic”. He adds that the ECHR “undermines the sovereignty of Parliament” and “has no authority to amend or override the constitutional arrangements in any country”, including allowing prisoners the vote.

The Conservative party used their annual conference to announce plans to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a “British Bill of Rights”, leading to condemnation from civil rights campaigners.

“Shame on the prime minister for citing Churchill, while promising to trash his legacy,” said Liberty director, Shami Chakrabarti, whilst Amnesty UK’s Tim Hancock declared: “Human rights are not in the gift of politicians to give. They must not be made a political plaything to be bestowed or scrapped on a whim.”

Guildford Four Enquiry Keeps Its Secrets

Forty years after the Guildford pub bombings, and 25 years after those wrongly convicted were freed, the results of the ensuing public inquiry remain unpublished.

Solicitor Alastair Logan, a member of the Law Society's Human Rights Committee, who represented the Guildford Four, has asked to see evidence from the Sir John May inquiry of 1989 to 1994.

"Neither the defendants nor their legal representatives were entitled to be present or to know what evidence May had given to him," says Logan.

An investigation by Avon and Somerset Police found serious flaws in the way the Surrey force had handled the original case. Three police officers stood trial but were acquitted in 1993. Now, and following Gerry Conlon's death, the embargo has been lengthened from 30 to 75 years.

Professor Marie Breen-Smyth, a Belfast politics expert at the University of Surrey, has called for a full, open inquiry.  "We know who did the bombings,” she says. "We don't know who did the miscarriage of justice, because the miscarriage of justice was perpetrated by people within the justice system.

"It really needs to be seen by those who are watching and regarding it as a shameful episode that people have left no stone unturned to reinstate the good name of the British justice system."

Continuing Appeal of Khmer Rouge

Two of the most senior surviving members of the Khmer Rouge have appealed against sentence and conviction for crimes against humanity, handed down by a UN-backed tribunal in August.

88-year-old Nuon Chea and 83-yar-old Khieu Samphan claim their trials were not fair and their convictions were a miscarriage of justice.

The Cambodian regime killed 1.7 million people in the 1970s.

UK Air Strikes Endanger Hostage

Shameela Islam-Zulfiqar, a friend of British hostage Alan Henning, fears UK air strikes on the Islamic State could be “detrimental” to securing his release, and civilian casualties would have a “devastating effect on the ground to people who are already suffering”.

Dr Islam-Zulfiqar, a masters student in humanitarian and conflict response, who was travelling with Mr Henning when he was captured in December, said: “Any air strike with UK backing is going to have a detrimental effect on the negotiations that have been going on to try and have Alan released.”

She called Mr Henning “a remarkable, unique human being… it would be a huge miscarriage of justice for [Isis] to harm him or kill him."