Procedural safeguards in the EU

December 19, 2009

What are procedural safeguards? The term ‘procedural safeguards’ refers to the protections afforded to a defendant in the course of criminal proceedings. The European Commission Green Paper and Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on procedural safeguards adopted the phrase to refer to this aspect of criminal procedure in the area of police and judicial […]

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

What is the International Commission of Jurists? The ICJ is an international non-governmental organisation which promotes human rights and the rule of law. Its membership consists of sixty eminent jurists from around the world. Its new President is Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of the Republic of […]

The Lisbon Treaty

Why is the Lisbon Treaty necessary? The current treaty base to the European Union (EU) has developed between 1958 when the European Economic Community (EEC) was formed and the 2003 Nice Treaty. The founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) comprised of six member states. The 15 member states that approved the […]

The parole system of England and Wales

What is Parole? ‘Parole’, a word originally meaning ‘word of honour’, is used in modern-day England and Wales to describe the release of a prisoner on licence by the Parole Board while his or her sentence is still ongoing. ‘Conditional’ release occurs in circumstances where the sentence is still ongoing and the prisoner can be […]

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 […]