17 November, 2014

Maryam Rajavi ~ Legal challenge to her exclusion from the UK failed

The Supreme Court of the UK has dismissed an appeal against the Home Secretary's exclusion from the UK of dissident Iranian politician Maryam Rajavi.  The majority justices were Lord Neuberger (President); Lady Hale (Deputy President); Lord Clarke and Lord Sumption.  Lord Kerr dissented.

In essence, the court's role was limited to examination of whether the Home Secretary had acted lawfully.  It was held that that was so.  There was no basis on which the court was able to substitute its own opinion for that of the constitutionally appointed decision-maker on this matter.

The full judgment is at R (Lord Carlile of Berriew QC) and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] UKSC 60 and an explanatory memorandum is available.

Please also see the Of Interest to Lawyers blog for a succinct summary of the case and a more detailed look at the case is at the UK Human Rights blog - HERE.

25 September, 2014

United Kingdom Parliament ~ Briefing

Throughout the summer of 2014, the movement known by names such as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) , Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Islamic State (IS) has perpetuated unfathomable and hideous brutality in the Middle East - principally in Iraq and eastern Syria.   (On the various names see here). This movement is not a State so far as international law is concerned though it seeks to impose a "caliphate" on that area of the middle east. 

Air strikes against IS targets have taken place since August 2014 and the United States and its allies have now intensified that form of military action - BBC News 23rd September 2014 - US launches air strikes on Syria IS militants

At the United Nations General Assembly there were key speeches by President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron:

President Obama 24th September 2014

Prime Minister Cameron 24th September 2014

As the United Kingdom moves

01 August, 2014

Iran Tribunal - Reasoned judgment


The Iran tribunal - covered on this blog in a number of posts - issued its reasoned judgment on 5th February 2013.   Please see Youtube for The Final and Reasoned judgment of the Iran tribunal.  The video (dated 15th March 2013) lasts 41 minutes.  Following an introduction by John Cooper QC, South African Judge Johann Kriegler pointed out that Iran ignored an invitation to be a party to the tribunal.  This added a burden to the tribunal's deliberations since it wished to produce a fair judgment.  Nevertheless, Judge Kriegler described the evidence that was produced as 'cogent, logically interrelated and corroborative' and 'horrifying.'  He describes how he approached the case with a 'jaundiced ear and a jaundiced eye' but became convinced of the truthfulness of the evidence.

The full written judgment is available here  (Word Document).

20 March, 2014

Iraq - Al Sweady Inquiry - update

The Al Sweady Inquiry was the subject of an earlier post - 9th March 2013.  The Inquiry's terms of reference are:

"To investigate and report on the allegations made by the claimants in the Al- Sweady judicial review proceedings against British soldiers of (1) unlawful killing at Camp Abu Naji on 14 and 15 May 2004, and (2) the ill-treatment of five Iraqi nationals detained at Camp Abu Naji and subsequently at the divisional temporary detention facility at Shaibah Logistics Base between 14 May and 23 September 2004, taking account of the investigations which have already taken place, and to make recommendations".

19 February, 2014

North Korea ~ The Hidden Gulag

On 21 March 2013, at its 22nd session, the United Nations Human Rights Council  established the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Resolution A/HRC/RES/22/13 mandated the body  to investigate the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, with a view to ensuring full accountability, in particular for violations which may amount to crimes against humanity.

Among the violations to be investigated are those pertaining to the right to food, those associated with prison camps, torture and inhuman treatment, arbitrary detention, discrimination, freedom of expression, the right to life, freedom of movement, and enforced disappearances, including in the form of abductions of nationals of other States.  Read more about the Commission... 

The Commission's report and supporting documentation is HERE.

Although North Korea has been referred to as The Hidden Gulag the world has no excuse any longer to claim lack of knowledge of the North Korean situation of today.

The Democratic People's Republic of North Korea did not co-operate with the Commission's investigation.  The Commission shared its findings with the North Korean government.

Other Links:

Wikipedia - North Korea - Political Prison Camps

International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea

The Hidden Gulag

28 January, 2014

The International Criminal Tribunals

Former Yugoslavia:

In May 2012, I blogged about the Ratko Mladic trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) - Ratko Mladić - Trial at the ICTY   His trial commenced on 16th May 2012 and updates on the trial are available via the ICTY website - Mladic.

The other particularly notable trial, again still on-going, is that of  Radovan Karadzic - see ICTY Karadzic  - his trial commenced on 26 October 2009.

It is reported that Mladic refused to testify for the defence in Karadzic's trial - The Guardian 28th January 2014.   "Karadzic had a list of six questions he wanted to ask of Mladic, focusing on the general's knowledge of the Srebrenica massacre and the Serb siege of the capital Sarajevo, and how much of that information he had passed to Karadzic.  Karadzic was expected to argue that the two had no common plan and that he was unaware of his most senior general's activities, and so could not be held personally responsible for the worst bloodshed in Europe since the second world war.  Mladic gave the same response in answer to each question: "I cannot and do not wish to testify ... because it would impair my health and prejudice my own case," he said, offering instead to read a seven-page statement he said he had written the previous evening – an offer the judges refused.  Proceedings were complete after less than two hours and Mladic was led out, exchanging nods with Karadzic."

The ICTY's website pages on 20 Years of International Justice are particularly interesting. 

For lawyers,

23 December, 2013

Report of the Detainee Inquiry ~ concerns remain

Sir Peter Gibson
In early 2012, the then Secretary of State for Justice (Kenneth Clarke) announced that the government was discontinuing the detainee inquiry which had been set up in 2010 under Sir Peter Gibson - Detainee Inquiry under Sir Peter Gibson scrapped   Clarke also stated that he had asked Sir Peter to produce a report summarising the work done and identifying any issues likely to form the subject of further investigation.

The report has now been published - Detainee Inquiry Report  The Report is an interim document. It is intended to help Government in its preparation for any new Inquiry, including in relation to the terms of reference and protocols it may wish to develop. The Report may also serve to identify areas where action would be appropriate now, without awaiting a further Inquiry.

The United Nations

16 October, 2013

Maritime Piracy Protection

Attacks by pirates on two vessels within four days indicates a resurgence of piracy - Ship Management 16th October.  Marine piracy cost the global economy £3.8bn last year.  Just over £1.25bn was spent on hiring armed guards to protect valuable cargo and £40m was spent on ransoms.  A new device is enhancing the protection of ships against those who wish to get on board using ladders and grappling hooks.  See Marine Security Solutions

There is considerable concern about the existence of various websites which indicate the position of ships and the cargo being carried.

Previous post on piracy:

Piracy - A major problem in modern times - 14th February 2012.

22nd October - Suspected Somali pirates captured by navy led forces after attack on supertanker

4th November 2013 - The Horn of Plenty: How piracy becamse a $413m business

07 September, 2013

Syria ~ just who is the 'opposition' to the Assad government?

Wm Hague with Ahmad Al-Jarba
The Daily Mail - 5th September - published an article showing the moment when seven of Assad's soldiers were executed on camera by rebels fighting to overthrow the regime.  The soldiers are stripped, bound and pushed to the ground where a number of rebels stand over them pointing guns at their bodies. Some bear vicious injuries on their backs and arms - 'Stripped, bound and shot in the head...'

This appalling scene took place in April 2012.  It is said that the footage has come to light recently having been smuggled out of Syria only a few days ago by a former rebel who says he had become horrified by the brutality of the tactics his one-time comrades are using. He gave the footage to The New York Times.

So, just who are those opposing the Assad regime? The Combating Terrorism Centre has a useful starting point for those seeking an answer to this question - The Non-State Militant Landscape in Syria (27th August 2013).  Pointing out that the uprising against Assad has always been disorganised, the US Defence Intelligence Agency has estimated 1200 rebel groups are opposing Assad.

The British government has pledged support to the Syrian Opposition  In a Foreign and Commonwealth Office announcement of 5th September  it is indicated that the government views the Syrian National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces as the 'sole legitimate representatives' of the Syrian people.

The BBC has a Guide to the Syrian Opposition ...and see the website of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces

The G20 meeting was held in St. Petersburg on 5th and 6th September - HERE - but no consensus emerged as to an international way forward to handle the Syrian crisis - BBC News - G20 divided on Syria.

The Syrian Opposition has condemned the killings featured in the Daily Mail article - see, for example, Washington Times 5th September

23 August, 2013

Syria ~ Chemical weapons

There is no doubt that chemical weapons are being deployed in Syria.  The question is who is responsible for this since all sides in the conflict deny responsibility and indulge in mutual blame.

The recent attacks, near Damascus, appear to have involved Sarin.

Sarin has extreme potency as a nerve agent and production and stockpiling of sarin was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 where it is classified as a Schedule 1 substance.

As at 21st May 2009, Syria had not signed or acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention - see OPCW - though Syria was a party to the 1925 Geneva Gas Protocol.  There is some authority that the use of chemical weaponry is unlawful under customary international law.

Law and Lawyers 31st August - House of Commons debate on Syria 29th August

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

OPCW 31st August - UN Investigation Team return to The Hague from Syria

UN Office for Disarmament Affairs - Chemical Weapons

UN Office for Disarmament Affairs 

Statement of Foreign Secretary (William Hague) 23rd August 2013.

Sales of chemicals to Syria:

The Guardian 2nd September - Chemical export licences for Syria - just another UK deal with a dictator

Update --- Syria and the Chemical Weapons Convention:

Syria is to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention - HERE.


OPCW Director-General Welcomes Agreement on Syrian Chemical Weapons

The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, has welcomed the agreement on chemical weapons in Syria that was announced today following talks held in Geneva...14 September 2013Full story

OPCW to Review Request from Syria

The Director-General of the OPCW Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü received a letter on 12 September sent by the Syrian Foreign Minister, Mr Walid al-Muallem, informing him of the decision by the Syrian Government to join the Chemical...13 September 2013Full story

Inspection Report:

16th September - United Nations - The Report on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area of Damascus on 21st August 2013

The Independent 16th September 2013 - Syria gas attacks: the clear ad concise evidence from UN chemical weapons inspectors

United Nations Commission taking evidence from North Korean defectors

The New York Times reports on how defectors from North Korea are recounting their stories to a United Nations Commission.  

The three-member Commission of Inquiry was started by the United Nations Human Rights Council in March with a one-year mandate to investigate what the council called allegations of “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights,” including possible crimes against humanity, by the North Korean authorities.

The three panel members are retired Australian judge Michael Kirby (Chairman), UN special rapporteur Marzuki Darusman and human rights activist Sonja Biserko.  The panel will examine reports of prison camps, torture and food deprivation, reporting back in March 2014, a UN statement said.

According to UN Human Rights Council resolution 22/13, among the violations to be investigated are those pertaining to the right to food, those associated with prison camps, torture and inhuman treatment, arbitrary detention, discrimination, freedom of expression, the right to life, freedom of movement, and enforced disappearances, including in the form of abductions of nationals of other States.