Weekly Human Rights News: 16-12-22
This week's news includes reflections on our Human Rights Day event and updates from the Prime Minister and Justice Secretary.
We shared Human Rights Day highlights!
On 8 December 2022, we celebrated Human Rights Day 2022 with a virtual event to launch our new programme of support to help community groups. The event featured speakers from some of the incredible community organisations we have worked with over the last year, including Hopscotch Women’s Centre, Scottish Recovery Consortium and Pembrokeshire People First. We also heard from our trustee, Imran Khan KC, and from members of the BIHR team.
This week, we shared some clips from the event on our website along with an impact report from all our Human Rights Day 2022 activities.
We received the first applications for our Communities Programme!
We’re so excited to be able to offer bespoke, awareness-raising workshops for up to 20 community and voluntary groups across the UK. These are to help staff and the people they work with to learn more about the practical use of the Human Rights Act, and how the legal duties and rights can be used to challenge the social injustices and disadvantage they are seeking to change. Applications are open until Friday 27th January 2023.
We held our last staff workshop of 2022
On Thursday 15th December, we had our last workshop of 2022 where we talked to health and social care staff about applying human rights in practice. Over the course of the year, we’ve worked with advocates, frontline workers, practice leads and more from all around the UK to empower staff to embed a culture of human rights in the services they work in. We’re excited to continue this work in 2023!
News from Elsewhere
The Justice Secretary appeared before the Joint Committee on Human Rights
On Wednesday 14th December, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab appeared before the Joint Committee on Human Rights to discuss the Bill of Rights Bill.
A survivor of trafficking won a case against the Home Office for its handling of her confidential information
A 25-year-old British woman was being supported by the Salvation Army after she was identified as a survivor of trafficking. After a period of being detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act, she was due to be discharged but had nowhere to go. A solicitor from Duncan Lewis supported her to challenge the Home Office for not meeting its duty to provide accommodation. Over the course of the case, the solicitor said it became clear the Home Office had obtained sensitive information about the woman, including thoughts and feelings that were not relevant to her case.
These had been obtained from the database kept by the Salvation Army, where support workers stored detailed notes about clients. The Salvation Army is contracted by the Home Office to support survivors of trafficking but did not have adequate safeguards in place. The woman’s confidential information has now been erased from the database and the Home Office has introduced new safeguarding guidelines on what information can be shared with government officials.
Source: The Guardian
The Prime Minister announced he will bring in new laws on immigration
On Tuesday 13th December, the Prime Minister made a statement ot the House of Commons in which he said that “early next year we will introduce new legislation to make unambiguously clear that if you enter the UK illegally you should not be able to remain here.” He said the new laws would stop people who arrive by irregular routes from claiming asylum in the future.
The Prime Minister said, “the only way to come to the UK for asylum will be through safe and legal routes.” However, when challenged last month, the Home Secretary was not able to identify any safe and legal routes for the majority of people seeking asylum.
The Home Office agreed to remove a GPS tag from a survivor of modern slavery
Public Law Project (PLP) shared that a client, who was a survivor of modern slavery, was being monitored using a GPS tag. This was removed after PLP raised concerns with the Home Office. PLP’s report with Bail for Immigration Detainees and Medical Justice, “Every Move You Make: The Human Cost of GPS Tagging in the Immigration System”, raised concerns about GPS electronic tagging conditions interfering with Article 8 rights to private life.
Source: Public Law Project
The High Court granted unions permission to bring a case against the Government for laws that would impact strikes
On Thursday 21st July, the Government introduced The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022. These change the law so that temp agencies can now supply temporary workers to cover staff who are striking.
11 unions, led by the Trade Union Congress, say these regulations breach Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to strike. They sought permission for a judicial review of the regulations, which was granted on Wednesday 14th December – meaning the case can go ahead.
Source: Trade Union Congress
Four people died while attempting to cross the Channel
On Wednesday 14th December, the Government confirmed that at least four people died after trying to cross the channel in freezing conditions. This comes after the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, raised concerns that the UK Government’s “hostile environment” policy put the human rights (which include the right to life) of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants at risk. She noted that while safe and legal routes play an important role in preventing dangerous crossings, there appears to be appears to be “no framework…to ensure that persons on the territory of France, who may have a legitimate claim to protection or to a stay on other grounds (such as family links) in the UK, can effectively put such a claim forward.”
Source: The Guardian
The Ministry of Defence announced an inquiry into claims SAS soldiers killed Afghan civilians
The inquiry will look at allegations that Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers “murdered scores of unarmed people during night raids in Afghanistan”. The inquiry follows legal cases brought by families of those killed who have been calling for a full investigation into the deaths that complies with the positive obligations under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act, which protects the right to life.
Source: The BBC
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