Draft rules to make it easier for national authorities to freeze and confiscate criminals' assets across the EU were beefed up by the European Parliamentary Civil Liberties Committee this week. The MEPs also sought to safeguard the right to a fair trial, and called upon member states to use confiscated assets to fight crime and for social projects....
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A European Commission proposal to allow the use of EU air passenger name record (PNR) data in investigating serious crime and terrorist offences was rejected by Civil Liberties Committee MEPs last week, by 30 votes to 25....
UK businesses will be required to disclose all their efforts to end slavery, under a Bill launched in Parliament.
The Transparency in Supply Chains Bill, drafted by the Centre for Social Justice and Labour MP Fiona MacTaggart, will demand that businesses investigate whether their supply chains are slave-free.
As part of landmark measures to raise awareness about the nature and scale of human trafficking, businesses will be encouraged to conduct an audit of their suppliers to check that they comply with anti-slavery laws.
An estimated 27 million people are enslaved worldwide and this latest legislation will prompt all UK businesses, with a turnover of over £100 million or more, to take responsibility to end this appalling abuse.
Employees working with suppliers should be trained to blow the whistle on questionable practice, and all information of the vital work being done to combat slavery should be published online as part of the business’s annual review.
The Bill, intended to foster cooperation and build a consensus on slavery, is expected to prompt a cultural change similar to that brought about by the environmental or fair trade movements.
The CSJ is conducting an 18 month review of slavery in the UK which will be published in the Autumn of 2012.
The UK’s pledge to reform the European Court of Human Rights has been successfully fulfilled, according to Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke.
Reform of the Court was one of the key priorities for the UK’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe and the foundations of the reforms were laid in a speech given to the Court by Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this year.
In that speech, the Prime Minister outlined the challenges faced by the court as being:
Research released by the Equality and Human Rights Commission at the Brighton conference on the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), shows that just a tiny minority of rulings by the Strasbourg Court are against the UK government.
The research shows that of the nearly 12,000 applications brought against the UK between 1999 and 2010, the vast majority fell at the first hurdle. Only 3% (390 applications) were declared admissible. An even smaller proportion of applications - 1.8% (215) - eventually resulted in a judgment finding a violation. The latest figures for 2011 show a rate of defeat of just 0.5%, or one in 200.
The research also shows that, in a similar situation to the Human Rights Act, where the UK parliament has sovereignty over its implementation, UK courts have the flexibility to interpret the European Convention on Human Rights in a manner different to that of the Strasbourg court. A ‘margin of appreciation’ recognises that national authorities are in the main best placed to decide how human rights should be applied.
While judgments against the UK have been relatively few in number, a significant proportion involved basic civil liberties such as the right to a fair trial; around 8% of judgments related to the right to life and the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.
Other important rulings have led to better protection against unnecessary intrusion into privacy through the use of secret surveillance; legislation outlawing forced labour and servitude; equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people and protecting the freedom of the UK media, including the protection of journalists' sources and the importance of investigative journalism, as in the exposure by the Sunday Times of the thalidomide case.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that detention conditions and length of sentences of five alleged terrorists would not amount to ill-treatment if they were extradited to the USA.
The case of Babar Ahmad and Others v. the United Kingdom concerned six alleged international terrorists – Babar Ahmad, Haroon Rashid Aswat, Syed Tahla Ahsan, Mustafa Kamal Mustafa (known more commonly as Abu Hamza), Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled Al-Fawwaz.
Between 1999 and 2006 all six applicants were indicted on various terrorism charges in the United States of America. On the basis of those indictments, the US Government requested each applicant’s extradition from the United Kingdom.
As a result, all six applicants were arrested in the UK and placed in detention pending extradition to the USA. They then contested their extradition in separate proceedings in the English courts, without success, their requests for leave to appeal to the House of Lords and the Supreme Court ultimately being rejected.
In its Chamber judgment in the case, which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there would be:
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