07 January 2022

BIHR’s round-up of the week's top human rights news, from BIHR and beyond...

News from BIHR

We’re hiring!

We’re looking for new members to join our team! We’re looking for a new Assistant Human Rights Officer, Human Rights Officer and Operations Assistant to join us at BIHR.

Click here to read about and apply for the Human Rights Officer role.  The deadline for receiving applications is 1pm on 19th January 2022.

Click here to read about and apply for the Assistant Human Rights Officer role. The deadline for receiving applications is 1pm on 19th January 2022.

Click here to read about and apply for the Operations Assistant role. The deadline for receiving applications is 9am on 7th February 2022.

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We’re working on a rights-based analysis of proposed social care reforms in England, Scotland and Wales

The British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) and the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTI) are working together to carry out a rights-based analysis of proposed adult social care reforms in England, Scotland and Wales. This work was commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to help inform their future programmes of work.

As well as an evidence-based review using the PANEL human rights framework of key documents, the team is interested in the views of our 4 key stakeholder groups (people, communities, public bodies and policy professionals). We will soon be sharing our engagement plan on our website and letting you know how to get involved.

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We’re working on our action plan in response to plans to “overhaul” the Human Rights Act 

On 14th December, the Government released a consultation paper setting out plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a UK Bill of Rights. We released a five-part action plan in response. We’re starting the new year on a busy foot as we work on and develop our plan. Click here to read the plan and find out how you can get involved.

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News from elsewhere 

Human Rights lawyers are investigating the treatment of a man detained under the Mental Health Act for more than four years

Patient A, who has autism, Tourette’s syndrome and a learning disability, has been detained at Cheadle Royal Hospital since 2017. He “has no physical contact with anybody and his meals are slid through a gap in the bottom of a wooden hatch.” His mother wants him to be cared for in the community and has hired human rights lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his case and potentially start legal action.

Source: Irwin Mitchell

Plan B filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal in their case arguing that the Government have an obligation to tackle climate change under the Human Rights Act 

Plan B is a charity that supports legal action against climate change. In May 2021, they brought a case on behalf of three young people arguing that the UK government’s failure to address climate change breaches their right to life, family life and freedom from discrimination. On 21 December 2021, the High Court found their case unarguable because it relied on an international treaty (the Paris Agreement), which is not UK law, and UK courts cannot decide whether the UK has met international obligations. Plan B filed its appeal to the Court of Appeal on 29 December 2021 and is waiting for a response.

Source: Plan B

Court of Appeal to hear more cases involving charges of assisting unlawful immigration cases this month

In December 2021, the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of three men who were jailed for “assisting unlawful immigration” after they helped steer small boats across the Channel. This means they found that the “guilty” verdicts were invalid. The Court said that the Home Office was wrong to say that asylum-seekers who arrive in the UK to make a claim for asylum are acting unlawfully. The Court of Appeal said it expects to hear seven more cases that raise similar issues in January 2022.

Source: The Independent

The Government announces cautions and convictions for consensual same-sex activity will be disregarded 

The Government is expanding the current law so that anyone who received a caution or conviction for consensual same-sex activity will be able to apply to have them disregarded and removed from their record. They will also then receive an automatic pardon.

Source: BBC

The European Court of Human Rights declared the “gay cake case” inadmissible 

In 2018, the UK Supreme Court ruled that it was not discriminatory for a Northern Irish bakery to refuse to make a cake for Gareth Lee with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage on it. BIHR wrote a blog explaining that this was an example of balancing rights under the Human Rights Act. Lee then applied to have his case heard by the European Court of Human Rights. On 06 January 2021, the Court said they could not hear the case because Lee did not rely on the Human Rights Act (which brings the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law) in his initial case. Instead, he relied on the UK’s Equality Act.

Source: BBC