Our pick of human rights news stories from the past week.

News From BIHR

We have been shortlisted for a National Advocacy Award!

We’re thrilled to announce that BIHR has been shortlisted in the Outstanding Supporter category for the 2019 National Advocacy Awards. The Awards recognise excellence within advocacy and congratulate exceptional contributions to the field of advocacy. 

BIHR News 

News from Elsewhere

UK judge granted whistleblower protection rights

A district judge who says she was bullied and had a breakdown after speaking out about the impact of legal aid cuts has been vindicated in a landmark whistleblowing case at the supreme court.

Delivering judgment, Lady Hale said: “Subjecting a whistleblower to detriments such as bullying and victimisation would be an interference with her right to freedom of expression, protected by article 10 of the European convention on human rights. Thus denying her those remedies would be discrimination against her in the enjoyment of her convention rights …”

The Guardian

Black, asian and ethnic minorities more likely to be targeted in stop-and-search, Home Office report finds

More people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are likely to be targeted under relaxed stop-and-search rules, despite not having committed crimes, an official report has said.

Evidence also suggested "changes in the level of stop and search have, at best, only minimal effects on violent crime", according to the equality impact assessment published by the Home Office, which rolled back restrictions on the "controversial" tactic as part of a bid to crack down on knife crime and violence in August.

The Independent

Extinction Rebellion to fight ban on protesting in London in court

Extinction Rebellion has said it will fight a ban on activists protesting in London in court, as the capital’s mayor, a key ally of the police, distanced himself from the crackdown.

The environmental pressure group said its lawyers had sent the Metropolitan police a letter threatening legal action. It is a prelude to a judicial review and Extinction Rebellion (XR) described the ban as a “disproportionate and unprecedented attempt to curtail peaceful protest”.

Politicians, civil rights campaigners and environmentalists have condemned the police crackdown on the protests, saying the London-wide ban was “chilling and unlawful”.

The Guardian

Hate crimes rise 10 per cent amid surge in anti-gay and transgender attacks

Hate crimes have risen by 10 per cent in a year across England and Wales to a new record high, amid a surge in attacks on transgender people.

Of the total of almost 103,400 hate crimes recorded by police in 2018-19, three-quarters were racially motivated – a category that includes xenophobia.

But the largest increase was seen in transgender hate crimes, which rocketed by 37 per cent to 2,333 incidents.

The Independent


Police Scotland stopped and searched 3,000 children

Police stopped and searched more than 3,000 children in 15 months, BBC Scotland has learned.

Analysis of police data shows that officers found nothing in almost two thirds of cases.

And the youngest person to be stopped and searched was a seven-year-old girl who officers suspected to be in possession of drugs.

BBC News

UK to deport academic to Democratic Republic of Congo – which she has never visited

Furaha Asani, a young academic at Leicester University, was shocked when her visa application was rejected in August. But real fear set in when she realised Britain plans to deport her in three weeks’ time to the Democratic Republic of Congo – a war-torn country she has never visited and where the Home Office agrees sexual violence is pervasive.

The Guardian

Domestic abuse bill not enough to save ‘life-saving’ services, campaigners warn

The domestic abuse bill announced by the government does not do enough to tackle cuts to “life-saving” services which are pushing increasing numbers of domestic abuse victims into homelessness, campaigners have warned.

Boris Johnson’s first Queen’s Speech since becoming prime minister included a commitment to reintroducing the legislation, which was dropped because of his unlawful suspension of parliament last month.

Andrea Simon, of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “The bill does not adequately provide for life-saving services for victims of domestic abuse. They need to give them much more money. In many cases, refuges are running on their reserves to keep open.”  

The Independent


Corbyn: Voter ID plans discriminate against ethnic minorities

Plans to make all UK voters prove their identity will "disproportionately" discriminate against ethnic minorities, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The government outlined plans in the Queen's speech on Monday to require people to bring photo ID to polling stations in order to vote.

Mr Corbyn claimed the move was an attempt to "suppress voters" and "rig" the next general election result.

The government said the plans were "reasonable and proportionate".

BBC News

Number of British modern slavery victims up 72% in a year, figures show

The number of British people identified as modern slavery victims has surged by 72 per cent in a year, according to figures, fuelling concerns about “county lines” drugs gangs and other forms of labour exploitation.

An analysis of data by The Independent shows the number of UK nationals recorded as being potential victims of trafficking increased from 1,246 in 2017-18 to 2,143 in 2018-19 – with the proportion of all victims who are British up from 21 per cent to 26 per cent in one year.

The Independent


Council of Europe report on Scotland condemns practice of refusing detained persons’ access to a lawyer

The practice in Scotland of delaying detainees’ access to a lawyer has been condemned for the second time by a Council of Europe committee, which has called for legislation to be amended to secure this right – seven years after it did so the first time.

Detained persons are entitled to have a lawyer notified of their detention, the place of their custody and that legal assistance is required – under s.43 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016. Section 44(1) affords detained persons the right to consult with a solicitor at any time.

The delegation from the Council of Europe European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) found that the right of notification to a solicitor operated well in practice and was afforded to all persons interviewed in police custody. However, several people the delegation spoke to said they were refused requests to speak to their lawyer on the phone, with custody staff speaking to the lawyer on their behalf.

The first time that many of the detained persons were able to talk with their lawyers was just before attending court on the following Monday.

Scottish Legal News