Friday, 22 January 2010

Extended: Call for Papers – CCJHR Postgraduate Conference 29th Apil 2010

The Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights at University College Cork is pleased to announce its IV Annual Postgraduate Conference which will take place on Thursday, 29th April, 2010. The conference is aimed at those who are undertaking postgraduate research in the areas of crimial law, criminal justice and human rights.

The theme for this year's event is "Borders of Justice: Locating the Law in Times of Transition." The aim is to reflect upon how reactionary law making and the related rhetoric of crisis impact negatively on fundamental rights protection and the criminal law. We hope that this theme will encourage debate on the challenging and complex questions which arise when defining the remit of the law in changing and turbulent times.

This international one-day event will attract promising research scholars from Ireland, the UK and Europe in the areas of law, politics, philosophy and the related social sciences. We are especially interested in papers that relate to human rights, criminal justice, criminal law or the intersection of these fields. However, we also welcome papers dealing with issues outside these areas that fall within the broader theme of the conference. Papers will be streamed thematically, with previous years including such sessions as "Contemporary Discourse in Criminal Law", "Civil Liberties, Technology and State Security Claims" and "International Law, Human Rights and Development Policy".

The keynote address will be delivered by Professor John Gardner of the University of Oxford. John Gardner has been Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Oxford since 2000. He was formerly Reader in Legal Philosophy at King's College London (1996-2000), Fellow and Tutor in Law at Brasenose College, Oxford (1991-6) and Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford (1986-91). He has also held visiting positions at Columbia, Yale, Texas, Princeton, and the Australian National University. In 2010 he will hodl short-term positions at Auckland and Genoa. He serves on the editorial boards of the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Legal Theory, Law and Philosophy, and The Journal of Moral Philosophy, among others. His work extends across a wide range of topics in the philosophy of law. Currently he is working mainly in the philosophy of private law, but he has also written philosophically on topics as diverse as constitutions, discrimination, human rights, the emotions, the nature of law, and the nature of rationality. His most extensive body of work is in the theory of criminal law and some of it is collected in his 2007 book Offences and Defences (OUP).

The best paper of the conference will receive a prize of €200 which is sponsored by the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights.

Please submit an abstract (max. 300 words) to the organising committee by Friday, 19th February 2010. Successful conference submissions will be notified by Friday, 5th March 2010. Submissions and further enquires should be directed to ucclawconf@gmail.com.

For further information, registration details etc. please visit https://exchfe01.ucc.ie/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.ucc.ie/en/ccjhr. For updates on accepted papers and the provisional programme connect with us on Twitter https://exchfe01.ucc.ie/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://twitter.com/ucclawconf and feel free to retweet to friends and colleagues!

Please note: a CPD Certificate of Attendance of up to 5 hours will be available for this conference.

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Friday, 15 January 2010

Announcing the 4th Annual CCJHR Lecture

The Centre of Criminal Justice and Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University College Cork requests the pleasure of your company at The 4th Annual Criminal Justice and Human Rights Lecture.

The 4th Annual Criminal Justice and Human Rights Lecture is to be delivered by The Honourable Mr. Justice William McKechnie, Judge of the High Court on “Respectable Criminality”and will take place on Thursday March 4th 2010 in the Aula Maxima, UCC at 6.30pm (Registration for this event will take place from 17:45)

The lecture will be chaired by Dr.David Riordan, Judge of the District Court With a wine reception to follow.

A 1.5 Hours CPD Certificate of Attendance will be issued for this event.There is No admission charge for this event.

RSVP via email: ccjhr@ucc.ie by 10th February, 2010.

Further information:
Noreen Delea,
Department of Law
UCC
Telephone: 021-4903220

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Thursday, 14 January 2010

More on Stop and Search powers

The decision of the ECtHR in Gillan and Quinton has given rise to some interesting comment. See a good contribution by Vicky Conway "Stop and Search and the Human Rights Boundaries" on the Human Rights In Ireland blog.

And in today's Guardian, Sir Ian Blair, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has argued in favour of the powers ruled illegal by the Court in an article entitled "In defence of stop and search". The main thrust of his argument is that the ends justify the means, and if it was not for such powers the police would victimise suspect communities:
Were the power to be abolished or unduly curtailed in its application ... two
consequences are likely. The first is that it would be almost inevitable that police officers would, as a pragmatic solution, begin to target these kind of searches much more closely on the particular community from which the current threat is seen mainly but not exclusively to come, young Muslims, with all the increase in alienation that would engender. Inconvenience shared must be preferable. Second, and avoidably, Britain would simply be less safe.

This seems to miss the clear points made by the court that firstly, those commuties were actually being targetted under the powers in the Terrorism Act 2000 and presumably the police felt justified and empowered to do that, and secondly, that no one had been charged with any terrorism related offences following a stop and search.

No country should allow their police to justify random and extensive stop and searches under the justification of making terrorists understand (as in airports) "that they are at risk, however covert their behaviour, of being searched and having their details logged at random."

The decision of the ECtHR seems to be lost of Sir Ian Blair. It will be interesting to see if the British Government understand a little better the importance of Article 8 rights in relation to stop and search powers.

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Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Gillan & Quinton v. UK - ECtHR rules UK police stop and search powers violate Art 8

The European Court of Human Rights yesterday decided that the UK’s anti-terrorism legislation allowing police to stop and search individuals without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing breached Article 8 of the ECHR.

Sections 44-47 of the Terrorism Act 2000 provide senior police officer’s with the power to issue an authorization, if s/he thinks it “expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism” which allows uniformed police officers within a defined geographical area to stop anyone and search them. These provisions go beyond the normal stop and search powers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 which require that the police officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that the individual possesses a “prohibited article” or is about to or has committed a crime. The authorizations under the 2000 Act are designed to be temporary lasting only 28 days and only within a limited area. However, the reality of the use of these provisions has seen the entire area of Greater London designated as suitable for searches and the authorization continuously renewed to the extent that the powers operated over a number of years. Thus the extraordinary power was normalized, something that was to have an impact upon the decision of the court.

The case of Gillan & Quinton v. UK was brought following stops and searches of the applicants at a demonstration against an arms fair in London in 2003. Gillan was a protester and Quinton a photo journalist. They challenged their treatment at the hands of the police through a judicial review which was dismissed in the domestic courts (R. v. Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and another). The House of Lords decision had been criticized for taking a weak approach to judicial review, or even showing excess deference to the executive, in the area of anti-terrorism powers. The court was doubtful that an ordinary search carried out by the police would amount to a lack of respect for a person’s private life. And that even if Article 8 of the convention was relevant the procedure under the 2000 Act was “in accordance with the law” and that it would be “impossible to regard a proper exercise of the power as other than proportionate when seeking to counter the great danger of terrorism.”

A case was then brought to the European Court of Human Rights claiming violations of Articles 5 (right to liberty), 8 (right to respect for private and family life), 10 (freedom of expression) and 11 (right to free association).

The ECtHR found a violation of Article 8 and so did not go on to consider the other violations raised by the case. It did, however, indicate that it felt that there was a breach of Article 5. In particular it noted that although neither applicant had been held for longer than 30 minutes they were during that period “entirely deprived of any freedom of movement. They were obliged to remain where they were and submit to the search and if they had refused they would have been liable to arrest, detention at a police station and criminal charges.” The court noted that the elements of coercion were “indicative of a deprivation of liberty” within Article 5. This is in contrast to the House of Lords decision in which Lord Bingham concluded that the brief nature of stop and search and the lack of handcuffs/confinement meant there was no “deprivation of liberty”.

In relation to Article 8 the court found that stop and search powers were a clear interference with the privacy of the person.

The public nature of the search, with the discomfort of having personal information exposed to public view, might even in certain cases compound the seriousness of the interference because of an element of humiliation and embarrassment.

The court went on to conclude that the interference was not “in accordance with law” finding that the “wide discretion” provided by the legislation had not been limited by adequate legal safeguards to prevent abuse of the process. The court noted the statistical and other evidence that had been presented to it showing the extent of the police powers under the law.

The Ministry of Justice recorded a total of 33,177 searches in 2004/5, 44,545 in 2005/6, 37,000 in 2006/7 and 117,278 in 2007/8. In his Report into the operation of the Act in 2007, Lord Carlile noted that while arrests for other crimes had followed searches under s.44, none of the many thousands of searches had ever related to a terrorism offence; in his 2008 Report Lord Carlile noted that examples of poor and unnecessary use of s.44 abounded….

The court concluded that there were clear risks of discriminatory use of stop and search powers with the data showing a “disproportionate” impact on black and Asian persons. In relation to the case at hand the court also noted that risk that “widely framed” powers could be “misused against demonstrators and protesters in breach of Article 10 and/or 11 of the Convention”.

The decision of the court therefore recognizes the reality of the use of stop and search powers, both in relation to ethnic minorities and demonstrators. The evidence from the Carlile reports powerfully demonstrates the long argued position that allowing the police to stop and search on the basis of a hunch, and without “reasonable suspicion” will have a tendency to result in arbitrary and discriminatory use of those powers.

The judgment of the court therefore criticizes the whole process by which the stop and search powers under the 2000 Act were authorized by both police and the Home Secretary. The lack of control and the ability of the police to stop people based on instinct clearly raised serious concern about the arbitrary nature of the powers. Whilst the immediate response from the UK government was that their lawyers were reviewing the judgment it is interesting to note that the Metropolitan Police took a decision in 2009 to curtail the use of s44 powers.

The seriousness of the situation relating to the police use of stop and search in the UK was emphasized on the day of the courts judgment when the Guardian reported that Kent Police had admitted conducting illegal searches on 11 year old twins at an environmental demonstration. The admission came as part of a court case brought by protests against the policing of the demonstration at the Kingsnorth power station in 2008. The search had been part of a “checkpoint” system set up by the police which saw over 3500 protesters systematically stopped and searched.

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Friday, 8 January 2010

Call for Papers – CCJHR Postgraduate Conference 29th Apil 2010

The Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights at University College Cork is pleased to announce its IV Annual Postgraduate Conference which will take place on Thursday, 29th April, 2010. The conference is aimed at those who are undertaking postgraduate research in the areas of criminal law, criminal justice and human rights.

The theme for this year's event is "Borders of Justice: Locating the Law in Times of Transition." The aim is to reflect upon how reactionary law making and the related rhetoric of crisis impact negatively on fundamental rights protection and the criminal law. We hope that this theme will encourage debate on the challenging and complex questions which arise when defining the remit of the law in changing and turbulent times.

This international one-day event will attract promising research scholars from Ireland, the UK and Europe in the areas of law, politics, philosophy and the related social sciences. We are especially interested in papers that relate to human rights, criminal justice, criminal law or the intersection of these fields. However, we also welcome papers dealing with issues outside these areas that fall within the broader theme of the conference. Papers will be streamed thematically, with previous years including such sessions as "Contemporary Discourse in Criminal Law", "Civil Liberties, Technology and State Security Claims" and "International Law, Human Rights and Development Policy".

The best paper of the conference will receive a prize of €200 which is sponsored by Griffith College, Cork.

Please submit an abstract (max. 300 words) to the organising committee by Friday, 12th February 2010. Successful conference submissions will be notified by Friday, 26th February 2010. Submissions and further enquires should be directed to ucclawconf@gmail.com.

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