Torture in UK law

January 6, 2008

Torture is illegal, right? Yes. The use of torture has been contrary to common law for several centuries, and the UK was well ahead of many other European jurisdictions in abolishing its use. Although the common law prohibited torture, however, the Privy Council continued to issue torture warrants until Felton’s case in 1628 and it […]

Homicide law reform

Why is homicide law reform topical? The government are proposing several changes to the law of homicide in their consultation Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide: proposals for reform of the law.((Ministry of Justice, July 2008)) It is expected that these proposals, or modified versions of them, will form part of the Law Reform, Victims and Witnesses […]

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

What is the Act about? What are the ‘Investigatory Powers’ it regulates? The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, or ‘RIPA’ as it is commonly known, governs the use of covert surveillance by public bodies. This includes bugs, video surveillance and interceptions of private communications (eg phone calls and emails), and even undercover agents (‘covert […]

Asylum and human rights

Why is asylum a human rights issue? Although the practice of states granting asylum is very old, the idea of political asylum as a basic right was first expressed in Article 14(1) of the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights, prompted by the experience of those fleeing Nazi persecution in the run-up to and during […]

Youth justice

January 7, 2007

Why is youth justice a human rights issue? The trial and sentencing of children and young people for criminal offences engages a number of fundamental rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The rights most obviously engaged are Article 2 (right to life), Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment […]

DNA retention by police

What is DNA? DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, the chemical that carries the genetic code for all human life. The study of DNA is important not only for increasing medical knowledge, but also for forensic purposes: because each individual’s DNA is both highly complex and unique to that person (or, at the very least, shared […]

Deportation on grounds of national security

What is deportation on grounds of national security? Under section 15 of the Immigration Act 1971, the Home Secretary has a very broad power to deport any foreign national whose removal from the UK he or she believes would be ‘conducive to the public good’. In Secretary of State for the Home Department v Rehman,(([2001] […]

Intercept evidence

What is intercept evidence? An ‘intercept’ is the technical term for the covert interception of private messages (whether via phone, post or email) by police and intelligence services. The most well-known form of interception is a telephone tap. However, with the rise of new technologies, increasing numbers of intercepts are made on electronic communications, such […]

A British Bill of Rights – a model for the 21st century

Why has the bill of rights debate been in the news? In February 2007 the Conservative Party announced its Bill of Rights Commission, which will look into the possibility of a home-grown domestic bill of rights. The announcement followed David Cameron’s call last year for a British ‘Bill of Rights and Responsibilities’.((Balancing freedom and security […]

Jury trial and serious fraud

January 6, 2007

Why is jury trial a human rights issue? Neither the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) nor the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) expressly guarantee the right to jury trial. This is unsurprising, given the different legal systems in place across the world and in the Council of Europe. Further, it is […]