Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Hard cases...

...make bad law, as the saying goes.  However (I suspect you could see that word coming), this case is a perfect example of why we need the amendment to the Human Rights Act that I have been saying is needed for some time now.

It seems that Mr Jumaa Kater Saleh arrived in this country in 2004 as an asylum seeker, aged 16.  His asylum claim was refused, but where the claimant is a child we allow them to remain here until 18.  At the age of 18 he (naturally) made a further application to stay here, which was being considered when he was arrested for sexual offences.  He was convicted on specimen charges of sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl.  It seems that the three victims, described as"far from mature for their age" were lured to a house and assaulted by Saleh and three others.  Even at its face this is a disturbing crime, but I cannot help but wonder whether anything is concealed by the fact that he was convicted on a specimen charge that was (perhaps) straightforward to prove and required little by way of traumatic experiences in Court for the witnesses?

Anyway, he served his sentence and was then set to be deported back to Darfur... except that he claimed that this would be in breach of his human rights as "he would face inhuman and degrading treatment in Sudan, in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights".  On that basis, he could not be deported.  So he was held in an immigration detention centre while the Home Office tried to work out what to do with him; the Court has just ruled that he cannot be held indefinitely and declared that he is entitled to compensation for being held beyond what was reasonably necessary.

The Telegraph is up in arms because we are going to have to compensate a foreign paedophile.  Once again, the media spectacularly misses the point.  Of course we have to compensate him; if our civil servants are incompetent enough to hold someone illegally, then compensation will be due regardless of how unpleasant the individual is.  There are two much more glaring problems leaping out of this case than the simplistic "Arrrgghhh immigrant paedo money waste!!!" headline that the Telegraph has grabbed.

First... his original asylum application was refused.  In other words, it was decided that he would not face persecution if sent home.  Then, his Human Rights application was successful, on the grounds that he would face persecution if sent home.  Someone needs to think about that.

Second, and this is the point I have been making for some time, his argument that being sent back to Darfur would breach his human rights was made under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, that "he would face inhuman and degrading treatment in Sudan".  Inhuman and degrading treatment... in other words, treatment akin to (say) a sexually immature 13-year-old being dragged of the street into a strange house and being sexually assaulted by four men?  Is it not an utter and rank hypocrisy to resist being sent to your own country on the grounds that, once there, you might be subject to treatment of the same class as you did actually inflict on a national of the country that accommodated you?

It isn't a huge change to the Human Rights Act that we need.  Just a little one.  Just one that says you can't use a human rights defence to protect you from the consequences of your own denial of the same human right to another.

Just that little change.  That's all.

Monday, 11 November 2013

How to send yourself to jail

I was quite annoyed to read this:

New Asbo plans are assault on basic freedom, says former DPP Lord Macdonald

It seems that our beloved Home Secretary has plans to replace ASBOs.  As we know, there are a number of quite difficult issues around ASBOs, in particular their ability to criminalise quite inoffensive behaviour on the basis of a fairly flimsy evidential basis.  Nevertheless, I'm sure they are capable of doing good in some circumstances.  So there are (obviously) two options for reform:

  • Redraft the provisions to add safeguards so that we keep the possible beneficial effects of ASBOs but limit their potential for mischief, or
  • Just widen them and make them easier to obtain without worrying about the consequences.

Theresa "Handful" May, not yesterday
Guess which one Ms May opted for..
Under proposals currently before Parliament, Asbos are to be scrapped and replaced with wide-ranging new orders known as Ipnas (Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance).
They are designed to be easier to obtain, require a lower evidential threshold and yet cover a wider range of behaviour.
Oh good.  In fact, it gets better:
the new system will allow courts to impose sweeping curbs on people’s liberty if they think they are “capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person”. 
Remember, of course, that breach of a Court order is contempt, which carries the potential for a custodial sentence.

At least there is some good news.  I find this sort of activity by politicians very annoying indeed.  So if Ms May gets this passed into law, then I can presumably use it to put an IPNA on her to prevent her from passing any more such laws.  I'm sure I'll be able to find a police officer keen to help me...

Thank you

You are not forgotten.