"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Thursday 28 February 2013

The indefinite Article 8


It is now more than sixty years since the United Kingdom became one of the first parties to the European Convention on Human Rights. Whether or not we were alive in 1950, we may need to be reminded of the huge changes that have taken place since then, especially in the way that unpopular or disadvantaged minorities are dealt with by criminal justice, civil justice, and society generally.

For a start we then had capital punishment: a mandatory death sentence, subject only to the executive's prerogative of mercy, for murder (including killing brought in under the felony-murder rule). Suicide and attempted suicide were criminal offences. Abortion was illegal in all circumstances, subject only to a doubtful defence of necessity on which only a very courageous doctor would risk his reputation and his liberty.

Male homosexual activity was a criminal offence, even when it took place in private between consenting adults. Even if they avoided prosecution, same-sex couples received none of the housing, social security or fiscal advantages afforded to married couples. Transsexuals received no sympathy from the law, as can be seen from a remarkably unsympathetic judgment given in 1970, which makes uncomfortable reading today [2] .

Discrimination in employment and housing was widespread. It was controlled neither by legislation nor (with honourable exceptions) by public opinion. It took place against women, gays, jews, roman catholics and foreigners of all sorts. Divorce law was fault-based and beset by arcane pitfalls – collusion, connivance and conduct conducing – to ensure that it was not too easy to get out of an unhappy marriage. Theatrical productions were subjected to censorship by an unelected official called the Lord Chamberlain, who objected to even moderate sexual explicitness (whatever its dramatic merit) and to less than obsequious references to the royal family. The publishers of the Penguin edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover were prosecuted for obscenity, and prosecuting counsel invited the jury to consider whether it was a book that they would wish their wives or servants to read. It was before the epoch referred to in Philip Larkin's much-quoted words:

"Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
. . .
Between the end of the 'Chatterley' ban
And the Beatles' first LP."

I could go on. But that is enough to give some flavour of the bleakness, narrow-mindedness and repression of Britain at the time when the government signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights... 


https://twitter.com/ZrileB tweets :
Brits quietly stripped of citizenship… then killed by drones. Sinister!

From the article :

The Government has secretly ramped up a controversial programme that strips people of their British citizenship on national security grounds – with two of the men subsequently killed by American drone attacks.

An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for The Independent has established that since 2010, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has revoked the passports of 16 individuals, many of whom are alleged to have had links to militant or terrorist groups.


This is a follow up to this case - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-20157167 (
Mahdi Hashi has British citizenship revoked for 'extremism' )

The implications are that even someone 'British born and bred' can have their citizenship revoked. Not just migrants.

Sheffield steps up protest against deportation of anti-rape activist.

Rally hears detailed evidence of Odette Sefuko's nationality and local MP calls for a stay of deportation planned in four days' time.


Sheffield campaigners staged an emergency protest yesterday to raise awareness of the plight of Odette Sefuko, an asylum seeker who fears she will be in great danger if deported to Uganda on Monday 4 March, as reported in the Guardian Northerner on Tuesday.

Supporters voiced their concerns for Sefuko, who is currently being detained at Yarl's Wood detention centre, after her arrest on Wednesday 13 February. They protested against the UK Border Agency's decision to deport Sefuko to Uganda despite UN expert evidence that she is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Here's a film of the rally.



https://twitter.com/19pst tweets :
Powerful: RT https://twitter.com/LRB : 'Border Vigils: Keeping Migrants Out of the Rich World' by Jeremy Harding


Japanese expats in UK sell brooches to aid Tohoku recovery.



Etna's eruption, from space.



The Economist's Syria cover: A more optimistic version.

NOT everyone agreed with our Syria cover last week. It illustrated the gradual destruction of the country that is the result of the war between President Bashar Assad and the rebels trying to oust him. One aspect of the country that has not been destroyed is the creativity. On February 25th Wissam al-Jazairy, a young Syrian graphic designer took the cover to task. His extended design showing the reconstruction of the country when the war ends went viral.


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