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Archive for the ‘Human Rights in the News’ Category

Human Rights & the UK General Election

April 6, 2010 2 comments

And they’re off! The least surprising news story of the day so far has been that Gordon Brown has made the trip to Buckingham Palace to request that the Queen dissolve Parliament, effective next Tuesday (this is to allow the Digital Economy Bill to be rushed through Parliament in the next six days). A General Election will take place on Thursday 6 May.

There are two key human rights issues that may be affected by the outcome of this election – one of which will be of great concern to human rights advocates in Ireland. These are:

  • the future status of the Human Rights Act; and
  • the campaign for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland (see here, here, here, and here). Read more…
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Ecuador to Ratify OP-ICESCR

April 2, 2010 Leave a comment

The NGO Coalition for an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has circulated the following report:

On Tuesday, March 30, the National Assembly of Ecuador gave approval for ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It is the first country to do so … Once the Optional Protocol enters into force, it will allow groups and individuals whose economic, social and cultural rights have been violated to present a complaint before the United Nations and seek redress.

Article 18 OP-ICESCR provides that ten ratifications are needed for the Optional Protocol to enter into force.

So far, 32 states have signed the Optional Protocol, which was adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 2008. A number of other countries are currently in the process of organising internal approval for ratification of the instrument. Ireland, unsurprisingly, is not one of these countries.

For more information on the International NGO Coalition for an OP-ICESCR and the global Campaign for Ratification and Implementation of the OP-ICESCR, see here

Policing the Shell to Sea Campaign

March 31, 2010 25 comments

I’ve blogged previously about the policing of the Shell to Sea Campaign but a number of developments of late are worth noting. Last week 9 activitists were in court on charges of public order but had the charges struck out as the court held that they had been unlawfully held for 27 hours in Garda custody before being brought before a judge.

Indymedia explain that one of the nine cases was used as a test case, that of Eoin Lawless. Mr Lawless was arrested at 2.20pm on 28th June last year, on a public road. He was detained at the Shell site for two hours, before being brought to a police station. He was charged at 9.15pm. He was not brought before a court until 5.30pm the next day. The Supt at court offered the explanation that there insufficient officers at hand to deal with prisoners, but this of course is not a satisfactory reason to deny a person their right to liberty. Read more…

Further updates on the BOR process: the NIAC report

March 30, 2010 1 comment

Following on from Cian’s earlier blog on the response of the DUP to the NIO’s Consultation Paper on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, it is worth noting that 24 March saw the Westminster Northern Ireland Affairs Committee release ‘A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland: An Interim Statement‘.

Given the political make-up of that Committee, many of those in favour of a NIBOR regarded the NIAC’s decision to carry out such an inquiry as an effort on the part of political actors unhappy with the NIHRC’s advice to have ‘another bite at the cherry’. Arguably, the limited and poor quality consultation document produced by the NIO in response to the NIHRC’s advice rendered this unnecessary. (For a discussion of some of the criticisms made of the NIO document, see here)

Whatever its reasons, the Committee itself does not make an explicit recommendation either in favour or against a NIBOR. Rather it states: Read more…

The End of the Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland?

March 30, 2010 2 comments

Tomorrow is the closing date for submissions to the Northern Ireland Office in response to their consultation on the Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. We have previously discussed this matter at much length (see Colin Harvey here and myself here). However, the Irish Times is today reporting that the Democratic Unionist Party has called for the plans to be abandoned. Against the backdrop of the upcoming British General election, this is another blow to those who believe that a Bill of Rights is necessary to fully embed the constitutional change wrought by the Good Friday Agreement. Further information on the campaign for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland can be found at http://www.borini.info/.

Kenny on Carson & Ors. v The United Kingdom

March 29, 2010 1 comment

We are delighted to welcome this guest contribution from Jo Kenny, Legal Officer at the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA), a project of the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC). You can learn more about Jo on our guest contributors page.

On 16th March 2010 the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in Carson & Ors. –v- the United Kingdom (Application No.42184/05). This is the end of Mrs Carson’s long road in challenging UK state pension policy.

Mrs Carson emigrated to South Africa and subsequently retired there. She had previously worked in the UK and made full contributions to the UK state pension. Indeed she continued to make such contributions on leaving. However when her state pension came into payment, it was not index-linked – it was frozen and would not be uprated to reflect the effect of inflation. The UK does not index-link state pensions paid in South Africa. The question for the Grand Chamber was whether this policy unlawfully discriminated against Mrs Carson on the basis of her place of residence, in breach of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 1 Protocol 1. Read more…

Cardinal Brady and the Civil Action Taken by alleged victim of Brendan Smyth

The Irish Times reports that Cardinal Seán Brady, the besieged leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, has said today that he wants a “just resolution” to a civil case taken against him by an alleged victim of the convicted child abuser Father Brendan Smyth. The man is suing Cardinal Brady in his capacity as Archbishop of Armagh and as the Catholic Church’s representative in Ireland. The action was initially taken some 13 years ago, in 2007. The Cardinal has asked his lawyers to engage with the complainant’s solicitor “with a view to progressing the case”.

The man claims he was repeatedly sexually abused by Brendan Smyth in Dundalk in the early 1970s. According to the Irish Times, the man is alleging that the Catholic Church called an ecclesiastical court to deal with the allegations and assured the man that Smyth would never be placed in a siutation where he could abuse children. Read more…