This week's human rights news includes updates on the Borders Bill and the Elections Bill as well as a new addition to our team of Human Rights Officers!

News from BIHR

We welcomed our new Human Rights Officer, Florence!

This week, we welcomed a new addition to our team of Human Rights Officers: Florence! Florence has a professional background in research and policy work, including human rights and public law, as well as being a qualified solicitor, having previously worked at a commercial law firm and in housing law at a law centre.

We submitted our response to the consultation on the Covid-19 Inquiry’s Terms of Reference

In March 2022, the Inquiry released its draft Terms of Reference. Terms of Reference set out the aims of an inquiry and how it plans to go about meeting these. The Inquiry will not look at any matters that aren't included in its Term of Reference. The Inquiry held a four-week public consultation, asking what people think should be included and how the Inquiry should go about finding information. We submitted our response, recommending that the Inquiry takes a human rights-based approach to its work.

Click here to read our submission.

We talked about rights-respecting practices with staff working in NHS inpatient wards

Our Human Rights Officer, Annie, met with NHS staff to talk about human rights in practice this week. Their Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Officer told us that she can see the difference BIHR’s programme has made already in their organisation. She told us she is involved in writing policies on things like the use of tear-proof clothing, and she is now working to ensure that human rights law underpins staff's decision-making.

News from elsewhere

The House of Lords voted to amend the Elections Bill to allow extra documents to be used as proof of identity

The Elections Bill currently being debated on would require people to show ID before they could vote. The Bill suggested by the House of Commons had a limited list of documents that could be considered ID, such as a passport or driver’s license. The Lords voted to allow extra documents such as a library card, a pre-payment meter card, a student ID card, a National Rail railcard or a workplace ID card to be used as ID, in order to make sure as many people as possible are able to vote.

The Bill will now go back to the House of Commons for MPs to vote on the changes.

Source: BBC News

The House of Lords voted for children unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Europe to be able to join family in the UK

The House of Lords voted for a clause in the Nationality and Borders Bill allowing unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Europe to be able to join their family in the UK. They also voted to give people seeking asylum the right to work after six months’ waiting for a decision on their claim. They also voted against a clause proposed by the Government that would make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission.

The Bill will now go back to the House of Commons for MPs to vote on the changes.

Source: The Guardian

The High Court found a 14-year-old autistic girl was unlawfully detained in hospital

An autistic teenage girl, referred to as ST, was described by the court as an “acutely vulnerable child with highly complex needs”. She was admitted to hospital after her parents struggled to cope with her challenging and violent behaviour. While in the hospital, ST was subjected to physical restraint, supervision by four security guards who changed on a regular basis, and chemical sedation. She was placed on a general paediatric ward, which the court found “manifestly inappropriate having regard to her needs.”

The NHS Trust that managed the hospital where ST was being held applied to the court for permission to deprive ST of her liberty. The Court noted that it was shocking that the application was brought by the hospital and not the Local Authority, who had allocated a social worker to ST and was responsible for her welfare.

The Court can only grant permission to deprive a child of their liberty if it is in the child’s best interests. The Court found that ST’s detention breached her right to liberty under Article 5 of the Human Rights Act and it was not in her best interests because “none of her considerable and complex needs are being met to any extent and [her placement] is, moreover, positively harmful to her.”

The Court ordered Manchester City Council to find an alternative and more suitable placement for ST. The Court also directed Manchester City Council and the NHS Trust to submit statements explaining how the situation was allowed to arise.

Source: The Guardian

The Equality & Human Rights Commission published guidance about single-sex spaces

The Equality & Human Rights Commission published guidance for service providers looking to establish or operate a separate or single-sex service. The guidance says that, under the Equality Act, such service providers can “prevent, limit or modify trans people’s access to the service” only if doing so is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. This applies whether or not the trans person in question has a Gender Recognition Certificate.

Click here to read the guidance.