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United Kingdom: Human rights review 2015

This review presents the key human rights events and European court cases affecting the United Kingdom this year.

January

Human rights judges accept “specific assurances” allowing a terrorist suspect to stand trial in the United States. The case of Aswat v. the United Kingdom (application no. 62176/14) concerned the complaint by a terrorist suspect Haroon Aswat, about the inadequacy of the assurances provided by the Government of the United States with regard to his extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States. Aswat, is a British national who was born in 1974, is detained pending trial in the United States.

February

Judges rule against a complaint brought against the United Kingdom by convicted murderer Arthur Hutchinson. He complained against his whole life sentence for murder.

March

In the British ‘Guardian’ newspaper, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland argues that “Britain can be at the heart of a torture-free Europe”

Media-dubbed ‘Naked Rambler’ Stephen Peter Gough’s failed human rights complaint is rubber-stamped by the European Court.

May

Prison inmates have no human rights entitlement to social security benefits, judges decide, after reviewing a complaint. The case concerned five convicted prisoners’ entitlement to social security benefits whilst serving criminal sentences in psychiatric hospitals. New regulations were introduced in 2006 to ensure that prisoners in psychiatric hospitals did not receive social security benefits, available to other patients, until the date they would be entitled to release from prison.

June

A Grand Chamber hearing opens into the fatal shooting at a London Underground station of a Brazilian man, mistakenly identified by police as a suicide bomber. The Grand Chamber hearing in the case Armani Da Silva v. the United Kingdom (no. 5878/08), has been brought by Patricia Armani Da Silva, a cousin to Jean Charles de Menezes, aged 27, who was shot dead by police on 22 July 2005 by two special firearms officers (SFOs) at Stockwell London Underground Station.

July

Human rights judges reject a complaint against the United Kingdom’s ban on assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia

Pieter Omtzigt, Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly on mass surveillance, joins the call by Amnesty International to Prime Minister David Cameron, urging him to launch an independent inquiry into surveillance of human rights organisations by the UK secret services (GCHQ).

Conservative MP David Davies MP outlines why he believes the European human rights system has made the United Kingdom a soft touch for criminals. “That’s why we should leave it!” he argues.

August

A factsheet on terrorism case-law is published by the European Court of Human Rights. It lists key complaints against the United Kingdom, Turkey, Spain, France, Slovakia, Belgium, Georgia and Russia.

A United Kingdom judge bans a father from sending his three daughters to Nigeria, over fears that they were being “prepared” for circumcision. The case highlights the Parliamentary assembly’s campaign against female genital mutilation.

September

Dominic Raab, the Minister for Human Rights, visits Strasbourg, to hear the ministers deputies express their concern at the government’s delay in bringing forward a prisoner vote parliamentary bill.

In an article in the United Kingdom ‘Independent’ newspaper, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, urges the Council of Europe’s 28 European Union nations to “rediscover the bloc’s humanitarian values and offer sanctuary to hundreds of thousands of refugees – or face long-lasting consequences.”

October

Judges reject a complaint from a Birmingham mum, who twice turned down council housing and then claimed her human rights were breached.

The court also sides with national authorities facing a human rights challenge from three terror suspects.

In a lunchtime radio interview with BBC Radio Four’s ‘World at One,’ Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, admits that a departure of the United Kingdom from the European Convention on Human Rights could lead to “the disintegration of the system.”

The United Kingdom signs the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, at a ceremony in Riga, Latvia.

November

A Grand Chamber hearing opens in a complaint brought by four men jailed for their involvement in London terror attacks.

December

Lawyer Virginia Murray, presents to a Bern Convention meeting, her report on Greece’s efforts to preserve and protect wild species and habitats.

A panel of judges rejects a request from Abdulla Ahmed Ali, convicted on ‘liquid-bomb’ air terrorism offences, for a new hearing into his human rights complaint against the United Kingdom.

A report adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly’s Political Affairs Committee, confirms that more than 4,000 western European “foreign fighters” have joined jihad groups in Syria and Iraq.The largest number are from France, the United Kingdom and Germany. The countries most affected relative to population size include Belgium, Denmark and Sweden.

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