Category Archives: international human rights

ECtHR: Police Violated Due Process Rights of London Bombing Suspect


The European Court of Human Rights
Credit: CherryX via Wikimedia Commons

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held last week that the United Kingdom did not violate the rights to access to counsel and to a fair trial when, without an attorney present, authorities questioned three men suspected of involvement in the July 21, 2005 London bombing attempt; the State did violate those rights, the ECtHR held, when questioning a fourth man who was initially brought in as a witness and was later convicted of assisting one of the bombers after the fact. See ECtHR, Ibrahim and Others v. the United Kingdom [GC], nos. 50541/08, 50571/08, 50573/08 and 40351/09, ECHR 2016, Judgment of 13 September 2016, para. 86. The decision partially reverses a Chamber decision of December 2014, which found no violations in any of the interviews or trials.

Within days of the attempted bombings, all four applicants were questioned by police. See id. at para. 17. The first three were arrested and questioned without an opportunity to consult a lawyer so the police could more readily elicit any relevant information regarding future attacks, a practice known as “safety interviews.” See id. at para. 64. The fourth applicant was interviewed as a witness and not in a safety interview, but became a suspect in the course of that interview. See id. at paras. 140, 300. The Grand Chamber held that there were not the same compelling reasons to delay his exercise of his rights and his witness statement should not have been used against him at trial. See id. at paras. 300, 310, 311. This is the first case before the ECtHR to address the right to legal assistance in the context of a safety interview, a technique allowed in the United Kingdom under its domestic terrorism legislation. Read more

UN High Commissioner Criticizes State Compliance Ahead of Council Elections

Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights during of the 30th regular Session at the Human Rights Council. 21 September 2015. UN Photo / Jean-Marc FerrŽ
Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights during of the 30th regular Session at the Human Rights Council. 21 September 2015. UN Photo / Jean-Marc FerrŽ

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights addresses the UN Human Rights Council
Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, voiced clear dissatisfaction with Member States’ lack of cooperation with UN human rights monitors, in his recent address to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which begun its 33rd session on September 13, 2016. The High Commissioner directed the international community’s attention to the growing number of Member States that refuse to allow access to or to engage with human rights mechanisms. [OHCHR Press Release: States] In that same statement he also made reference to political figures who ignore international legal standards and are “xenophobes and bigots,” drawing on the same rhetoric he used in a speech a week earlier condemning politicians in the European Union and United States who gained prominence through manipulative tactics that are contrary to international legal standards for human rights. [OHCHR Press Release: States; OHCHR Press Release: Politicians] The High Commissioner implored the international community to continue to focus on collective action to realize all human rights. [OHCHR Press Release: States]

During the Human Rights Council’s general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, States expressed varying views on the current functioning of the universal human rights system. While some asserted that the Council was overburdened and its human rights mechanisms were under resourced, others put the responsibility on their peers to make specific commitments to collaborating with the Council’s independent experts (“special procedures”) and with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). [OHCHR Press Release: Debate] The debate was based, in part, on the UN Secretary General’s recent report on cooperation with UN human rights initiatives. See Human Rights Council, Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights: Report of the Secretary General, UN Doc. A/HRC/33/19, 16 August 2016. Civil society has also reminded States that cooperation and commitment to the human rights framework is particularly important in light of the upcoming elections for State membership on the Human Rights Council for the period 2017 to 2019. [ISHR: Elections; ISHR: Enhancing] Read more

News Clips- September 9, 2016


Migrant and refugee camp in Calais
Credit: VOA/ Nicolas Pinault

Migrants and Refugees

  • The United Nations Children’s Fund released a report on refugee and migrant children around the world, finding that over 28 million children have migrated in an effort to leave violence and insecurity. [UN News Centre]
  • Locals in Calais, France gathered to protest the migrant camp in the town where over 7,000 people live. [BBC]

Civil Society

  • The United Nations Mission in South Sudan has called for South Sudan to stop suppressing the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of movement of civil society members. [UN News Centre]
  • Before and during the G-20 meeting held in Hangzhou, China this week, Chinese authorities arrested dozens of journalists and activists. [Washington Post]
  • An activist and village leader in China was sentenced to three years in jail this week after he confessed to bribery. [BBC]
  • The High Court in Zimbabwe ruled this week that a two week ban on protests was unconstitutional. [Jurist]
  • The Supreme Court of Thailand upheld the prison sentence of 20 years in the case of Sondhi Limthongkul, an opposition party leader. [Jurist]
  • The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights jointly published a report this week on freedom of expression in Somalia. [OHCHR Press Release]
  • Authorities in Brazil used tear gas and stun grenades against protestors after tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against President Michel Temer. [BBC]

Human Rights Bodies’ Activities


  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized Donald Trump, a United States presidential nominee, and Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician, for spreading fear and manipulating the public in a way that may lead to violence. [Guardian]
  • Denmark has started negotiating to buy data on Danish tax payers from the Panama Papers. [Guardian]
  • The United States and China both signed the Paris Agreement on climate change this week. [Jurist]
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