Category: UK news

  • In 2021, dozens of Tamils were fleeing Sri Lanka for Canada when their boat sprang a leak. They were taken to Diego Garcia by the British navy. Three years later, they remain there in desperate, dangerous limbo

    It was 10 days into the journey when the boat sprang a leak. Dozens of men, women and children were crowded on to a fishing boat, all Tamils fleeing persecution in their home country, Sri Lanka. They had hoped to reach sanctuary in Canada.

    Instead, on 3 October 2021, as their vessel began to sink, they were spotted and rescued by British navy ships, then taken to the secretive US-UK military base on the remote island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Union for civil servants claimed Home Office staff could be open to prosecution if Strasbourg rulings on Rwanda ignored

    General election 2024: live news

    Guidance drawn up by Conservative ministers which told civil servants to ignore Strasbourg rulings and remove asylum seekers to Rwanda is lawful, the high court has ruled.

    The FDA trade union, which represents senior civil servants, brought legal action claiming senior Home Office staff could be in breach of international law if they implement the government’s Rwanda deportation bill.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Decision could result in retailers being prosecuted if they import goods made through forced labour, campaigners say

    The UK National Crime Agency’s decision not to launch an investigation into the importation of cotton products manufactured by forced labour in China’s Xinjiang province was unlawful, the court of appeal has found.

    Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), which brought the action, said Thursday’s decision was a landmark win that could lead to high street retailers being prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime Act (Poca) if they import goods made through forced labour.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Decision could result in retailers being prosecuted if they import goods made through forced labour, campaigners say

    The UK National Crime Agency’s decision not to launch an investigation into the importation of cotton products manufactured by forced labour in China’s Xinjiang province was unlawful, the court of appeal has found.

    Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), which brought the action, said Thursday’s decision was a landmark win that could lead to high street retailers being prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime Act (Poca) if they import goods made through forced labour.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Leaders of Scotland’s five main political parties clash during live TV debate

    Momentum, the leftwing Labour group set up when Jeremy Corbyn was leader, is not happy about Keir Starmer’s jibe about Corbyn’s manifesto.

    Labour’s 2019 manifesto was fully costed.

    Keir should know, he stood on it as a member of the shadow cabinet.

    How about stopping attacking your own side during an election @Keir_Starmer?

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Most miscarriage of justice victims will still be denied compensation after two men lose test case in Strasbourg

    Most victims of miscarriages of justice will still be denied compensation in Britain after the European court of human rights ruled the government’s test for payouts was lawful.

    A test case was brought by Sam Hallam and Victor Nealon, two men who between them served 24 years in prison for crimes they were later exonerated of. Neither was paid any compensation by the government despite new evidence being enough to overturn their convictions.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Migrants seek redress for ‘immense distress’ from deportations now thrown into chaos by election announcement

    Asylum seekers detained by the Home Office and threatened with deportation to Rwanda are set to take legal action against the government after Rishi Sunak admitted that no flights will take place before the general election.

    The Home Office started raiding accommodation and detaining people who arrived at routine immigration-reporting appointments on 29 April in a nationwide push codenamed Operation Vector.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Some eligibility decisions have been linked to deaths of vulnerable claimants, and EHRC will examine if ministers acted unlawfully

    The treatment of chronically ill and disabled people by welfare officials, including benefits decisions subsequently linked to the deaths of vulnerable claimants, is to be formally investigated by Britain’s human rights watchdog.

    The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it would examine whether ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had acted unlawfully by failing to protect claimants with learning disabilities or severe mental illness.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Ministers should think again after judges ruled the authoritarian move to constrain demonstrations was unlawful

    Judges in the high court have found that the former home secretary Suella Braverman acted unlawfully in making it easier for the police to criminalise peaceful protest. That is a very good thing for society and democracy. The rights of non-violent assembly are among our fundamental freedoms, providing a touchstone to distinguish between a free society and a totalitarian one. Liberty, the civil rights campaigners who took the government to court, ought to be congratulated for standing up for all our rights. At the heart of this case was whether a minister could, without primary legislation, decide what words meant in law. The court, thankfully, thought that such matters were best left to the dictionary.

    During protests by environmental groups in the summer of 2023, Ms Braverman had decided to rule by diktat. Consulting only the police, and not the protesters who would have been affected, she used so-called Henry VIII powers that the government had conferred upon itself a year earlier. These allowed her to lower the threshold at which the police would intervene to impose conditions on public protest, defining “serious disruption” as anything “more than minor”. There’s an ocean of difference between the two. But Ms Braverman was unconcerned that she was shamefully pursuing a nakedly authoritarian move to constrain the right of peaceful protest by stripping words of their meaning.

    Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a response of up to 300 words by email to be considered for publication in our letters section, please click here.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Andrew Mitchell preparing to share details of assessment that there is no clear risk in breaching international human law

    The British government is preparing to publish a summary of its legal advice stating there are no clear risks that selling arms to Israel will lead to a serious breach of international humanitarian law (IHL).

    In a pre-prepared concession to the business select committee, the deputy foreign secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said: “In view of the strength of feeling in the IHL assessment process, I will look to see what more detail we could offer in writing on the IHL assessments in relation to Israel and Gaza both in process and substance.”

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Human Rights Watch says Clementine De Montjoye’s case raises fresh questions about UK’s asylum seeker scheme

    The Rwandan government has barred a senior human rights researcher from entering the country, prompting accusations that officials are seeking to dodge independent scrutiny just weeks before the UK government is due to send asylum seekers there for the first time.

    Rwandan immigration authorities denied entry to Clementine de Montjoye, a senior researcher in Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, when she arrived at Kigali International Airport on 13 May.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Campaigners say move to use the arts to reinforce economic ties with Riyadh may help to launder Gulf state’s human rights record

    It was an unusual gig for YolanDa Brown, the saxophonist and composer who this week performed high above the clouds for a UK delegation on a private British Airways plane bound for Saudi Arabia.

    The flight was part of a trade offensive for British businesses and institutions in Riyadh, with Brown’s performance part of a new focus for Saudi-UK relations – international arts.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • UK government considers appeal after judge says act undermines post-Brexit human rights protections guaranteed in the region

    The cornerstone of Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda deportation policy should not apply in Northern Ireland because it undermines human rights protections guaranteed in the region under post-Brexit arrangements, a high court judge has ruled.

    Parts of the UK’s Illegal Migration Act were also incompatible with the European convention on human rights (ECHR), Mr Justice Humphreys said.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Rishi Sunak says Belfast judgment will not affect his plans and the Good Friday agreement should not be used to obstruct Westminster policy

    Sunak starts with global security threats.

    The dangers that threaten our country are real.

    There’s an increasing number of authoritarian states like Russia, Iran, North Korea and China working together to undermine us and our values.

    People are abusing our liberal democratic values of freedom of speech, the right to protest, to intimidate, threaten and assault others, to sing antisemitic chants on our streets and our university campuses, and to weaponize the evils of antisemitism or anti-Muslim hatred, in a divisive ideological attempt to set Britain against Britain.

    And from gender activists hijacking children’s sex education, to cancel culture, vocal and aggressive fringe groups are trying to impose their views on the rest of us.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • James Toon, who helped develop the act in the 1990s, responds to an article by Shami Chakrabarti on the pressing need for equal treatment

    I read with interest Shami Chakrabarti’s article (The big idea: why we need human rights now more than ever, 6 May). The context for her article is the Conservative right’s repeated calls to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998. This was one of the landmark statutes of the first Blair administration, and its legal and constitutional significance is immense.

    Although now retired, I was a member of the Home Office bill team that developed the policy broadly set out in the 1996 Labour document Bringing Rights Home, supported ministers during its passage through parliament, and started work on its implementation. I had several discussions with Jack Straw, the then home secretary.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Teacher, education adviser and politician who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of children in Britain and abroad

    Doreen Massey, Lady Massey of Darwen, who has died of cancer aged 85, devoted a long and busy working life primarily to improving the lives of children and young people in Britain and, subsequently, as a member of the Council of Europe, further afield. She believed in an inclusive society and sought to challenge discrimination, to defend human rights and, whenever possible, to speak on behalf of those who did not themselves have a voice.

    Massey was acclaimed for her considerable ethical contribution to a number of issues in public life, notably on education, marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, sexual health and the misuse of drugs and alcohol. She was a forthright, brave woman who lived life according to the values she espoused, and in consequence was as widely popular in parliaments as she had once been as a schoolteacher in the playground.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Hunger strikes at detention centres as asylum seekers get ‘no answers’ from Home Office and fear removal on Gatwick or Heathrow flights

    Protests and hunger strikes among asylum seekers held in detention centres in preparation for deportation to Rwanda are increasing, the Guardian has learned.

    Approximately 55 detainees, including Afghans, Iranians and Kurds, are believed to have staged a 10-hour peaceful protest in the exercise yard at Brook House immigration removal centre, near Gatwick airport from 6pm Tuesday until 4am Wednesday.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Ceasefire and divestment calls have spread beyond US campuses, with more expected as Rafah offensive begins

    University campuses around the world have been the stage of a growing number of protests by students demanding academic institutions divest from companies supplying arms to Israel.

    The protests, which first spread across college campuses in the US, have reached universities in the UK, the rest of Europe, as well as Lebanon and India.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Shaima Dallali, ousted as NUS president in 2022, said to have accepted ‘substantial’ settlement before tribunal

    A former president of the National Union of Students is said to have accepted a “substantial” settlement to end her legal action against the union following her dismissal over allegations of antisemitism.

    Shaima Dallali was ousted as NUS UK president in November 2022 after an investigation claimed she had made “significant breaches” of the union’s antisemitism policies. But shortly before Dallali’s legal challenge was to be heard by an employment tribunal, the NUS and Dallali’s lawyers said a settlement had been agreed.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Asylum seekers are our neighbours, not political pawns for failing politicians. If MPs cannot resist the Rwanda plan, activists will

    Laws that are unjust will inevitably be broken. Here is a basic reading of our history, and indeed how numerous rights and freedoms were secured in the first place. Ruled as we are by a desperate man lacking a moral compass, our sinking government has brought forward plans to detain asylum seekers across the UK in preparation for their deportation to Rwanda. After both the European court of human rights and the supreme court declared the government’s scheme unlawful – not least because Paul Kagame’s authoritarian regime could plausibly deport them to the country from which they fled – the government railroaded through legislation, absurdly declaring Rwanda to be safe. Here is the very definition of a law to be disrespected: one drawn up to override the courts and thus the separation of powers, to turn a lie into a legal fact, in support of an unworkable and immoral scheme that imposes pain on the traumatised purely to bolster a prime minister’s imploding administration.

    Civil disobedience will take many forms. Asylum seekers will simply avoid reporting to the authorities, disappearing from the system altogether: indeed, the Home Office reports it cannot locate more than six in 10 migrants identified for deportation. But a network of activists across the country is poised to take action. We have lived through a decade of protests, speaking to a growing willingness to take to the streets to defy authority. Social media plays a pivotal role, not least when it comes to migrants’ rights: Anti Raids Network, for example, uses X to promote calls by local groups to mobilise activists to stop deportation raids. One such callout in Solihull yesterday asked for help stopping a deportation van: “There are unmarked enforcement vans in the car park, and we think these people could be at risk of being taken to detention.”

    Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist

    Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a response of up to 300 words by email to be considered for publication in our letters section, please click here.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Readers on the harm caused to those who remain incarcerated despite the abolition of IPP sentences in 2012

    I am heartened by two pieces on indeterminate sentences that you published last week (Tommy Nicol was kind and friendly – a beloved brother. Why did he die in prison on a ‘99-year’ sentence?, 24 April; Editorial, 26 April). The suicide of Tommy Nicol starkly highlights how unjust imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentences always were and remain (although abolished for new cases 12 years ago). As a former prison chaplain and doctoral researcher into pastoral care for those serving IPP sentences, I witnessed firsthand their impact on the mental wellbeing of those who were, in many cases, life-wounded souls themselves.

    Thanks to the Guardian and campaign groups such as the United Group for Reform of IPP, I am hoping that this judicial scandal can achieve the same traction in the public consciousness that the Post Office scandal has. While the Commons justice committee report into IPP sentences in 2022 strongly recommended resentencing those still in custody, MPs on both sides of the house lack the moral courage to take this humane step to right a blatant injustice. Some time ago, as a Labour party member, I wrote to Keir Starmer seeking clarification on his position regarding the IPP scandal. Disappointingly, but unsurprisingly, my epistle was met with silence.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Report concludes state sheltered soldiers from prosecution for Troubles-era crimes, as amnesty legislation comes into force

    Britain’s reputation will be severely damaged by the Northern Ireland “legacy” act, an international panel of human rights experts has warned while calling for the government to scrap moves to grant conditional amnesties for Troubles-era crimes.

    The warning is being made as the legislation comes into force on Wednesday, offering soldiers and paramilitaries a limited form of immunity from prosecution for Troubles-related offences for those who cooperate with a new body aimed at truth recovery.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Labour former home secretary says imprisonment for public protection sentences have resulted in ‘deeply damaging outcomes’

    David Blunkett, the former Labour home secretary, has said devising legislation that has left people languishing in prison for minor offences is the “biggest regret” of his eight years at the heart of government.

    The Labour peer, a titan of the Brown-Blair era, said that imprisonment for public protection (IPP) – known as the 99-year sentence – is the greatest blot in his copybook.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Coroner condemns ‘inhumane’ imprisonment for public protection sentences that have no end date for release

    A senior coroner has condemned the “inhumane” and “indefensible” treatment of a man who killed himself 17 years into an indefinite prison sentence. Tom Osborne, the senior coroner for Milton Keynes, said Scott Rider had given up all hope of release before he took his own life at HMP Woodhill in June 2022.

    He had been serving an imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentence after being convicted of grievous bodily harm in 2005. The sentence had a minimum term of 23 months but no end date.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Rights chief also warns Britain will be ‘judged harshly by history for its failure to help prevent civilian slaughter in Gaza’

    The UK has been accused by Amnesty International of “deliberately destabilising” human rights on the global stage for its own political ends.

    In its annual global report, released today, the organisation said Britain was weakening human rights protections nationally and globally, amid a near-breakdown of international law.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • His sister says the only person he ever presented a serious threat to was himself, yet he was given an indeterminate sentence for stealing a car. The psychological torture was impossible to endure

    When Tommy Nicol told his sister Donna Mooney about his prison sentence, she didn’t believe him. It was May 2009 and he had stolen yet another car. Nicol was a petty criminal, always nicking motors, and was rarely out of jail. “He said: ‘They’ve given me a 99-year sentence.’ I said: ‘That’s ridiculous.’ I thought he was confused.” Over the next few years, Nicol occasionally mentioned the sentence in letters to Mooney and asked her to look into it. She admits she didn’t give it much thought at the time.

    In 2015, Nicol killed himself in prison. He was 37. It was only then that Mooney discovered he had been right all along. Nicol had a four-year tariff (the minimum amount of time he could serve in jail) and an indeterminate sentence, known as imprisonment for public protection. IPP is also called a 99-year sentence because people serving one can, technically, be jailed for 99 years. When they are released, it is on a 99-year licence, which means they can be recalled to prison at any time in their life for even minor breaches, such as being late for a probation appointment (although the Parole Board will consider whether to terminate the licence 10 years after first release).

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Prime minister announces increase to UK defence spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2030 in speech about security. This live blog is closed

    Rishi Sunak has said that the deaths of five people who were crossing the Channel in the early hours of this morning underlines the need to stop the boats.

    Speaking to reporters on his plane to Poland, he argued that there was an “element of compassion” in his Rwanda policy because it is intended to stop people smuggling. He said:

    There are reports of sadly yet more tragic deaths in the Channel this morning. I think that is just a reminder of why our plan is so important because there’s a certain element of compassion about everything that we’re doing.

    We want to prevent people making these very dangerous crossings. If you look at what’s happening, criminal gangs are exploiting vulnerable people. They are packing more and more people into these unseaworthy dinghies.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Commissioner expresses grave concern after Rishi Sunak’s asylum policy passes parliamentary stages

    The Council of Europe’s human rights watchdog has condemned Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda scheme, saying it raises “major issues about the human rights of asylum seekers and the rule of law”.

    The body’s human rights commissioner, Michael O’Flaherty, said the bill, expected to be signed into law on Tuesday after passing its parliamentary stages on Monday night, was a grave concern and should not be used to remove asylum seekers or infringe on judges’ independence.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Bill could become law this week as end of parliamentary ping-pong in sight

    Q: Do you think you will be able to implement this without leaving the European convention of human rights?

    Sunak says he thinks he can implement this without leaving the ECHR.

    If it ever comes to a choice between our national security, securing our borders, and membership of a foreign court, I’m, of course, always going to prioritise our national security.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • Four men were jailed for life in 2017 for planning terrorist attack in UK after elaborate undercover police operation

    “It’s 40 years since the Birmingham and Guildford pub bombings … and the question that gets asked [is]: ‘Could you imagine this [a police stitch-up] ever happening again?’ My reply is that it already has. This is the case in which it happened.”

    The case referred to by Gareth Peirce, who represented the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four, was that of four Muslim men, who she is also acting for, jailed for life for planning a terrorist attack on UK soil after an elaborate undercover operation.

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    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.