Tory government flouting human rights over Grenfell-style cladding

From The Observer: The Tory government is breaching fundamental obligations to protect its citizens’ right to life by failing to address the systemic problems that led to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the UK’s human rights watchdog has warned.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has written to the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government (DHCLG) outlining its concerns about the continued use of combustible cladding in existing buildings and advising the department of its responsibilities under human rights laws to protect lives.

The watchdog has yet to receive a response from the department, which in June launched a consultation into the use of cladding, believed to be a key factor in the Grenfell disaster.

The commission said it was concerned that the consultation omits any reference to the government’s duty to protect lives under article 2 of the European convention on human rights and schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Theresa May to oppose MPs’ vote on Northern Ireland abortion law

From The Guardian: Theresa May will oppose plans to let MPs vote to liberalise Northern Ireland’s oppressive abortion laws, Downing Street has signalled.

The landslide vote in favour of liberalising abortion laws in the Irish Republic has put the spotlight on Northern Ireland, which will be the only place in Britain and Ireland where abortion is in most circumstances illegal. The 1967 Abortion Act was never extended to the region, and abortion is only allowed if the life or mental health of the mother is at risk.

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Home secretary ignores court order and sends asylum seeker to Kabul

From The Guardian: An asylum seeker is holed up in a hotel room in Kabul in fear for his life after the home secretary breached a high court order not to remove him from the UK and instead put him on a plane back to Afghanistan.

Samim Bigzad, 23, says he is a prime target for the Taliban because he worked in construction for the Afghan government and American companies before he sought sanctuary in the UK.

Now he is back in Kabul he is even more fearful after a group of armed men in plain clothes arrived at the hotel on Wednesday and demanded to know his whereabouts.

Two high court judges have made separate orders calling for Bigzad to be brought back to the UK as a matter of urgency. The second states that the home secretary, Amber Rudd, is in contempt of court for breaching the first order not to remove Bigzad.

“I am very scared,” Bigzad said in a call from his hotel room in Kabul. “The people who work at the hotel are bringing food to me and have told me I must not leave this room at all. I think the hotel staff have a gun for protection if the men come back and try to force their way in.”

The first high court order preventing the asylum seeker’s removal was issued on Tuesday evening by Mr Justice Morris. By that time Bigzad had already been removed from the UK by the Home Office and had been put on to a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul. From there he was due to board a connecting flight to Kabul.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Judge condemns Amber Rudd for ignoring orders to release torture victim

From The Guardian: A high court judge has said she is “deeply concerned” about the behaviour of Amber Rudd for failing to release a survivor of torture from detention despite repeated court orders requiring her to do so.

“The court is deeply concerned,” said Mrs Justice Nicola Davies DBE. “Four weeks have elapsed since an order was made.”

She added that the home secretary had failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for the delays in releasing the man from detention.

It is unusual for a high court judge to condemn a senior government minister in such strong terms. In a mark of her disquiet about the secretary of state’s conduct she not only awarded costs against her but also made an indemnity order – something reserved for conduct or circumstances that take a case “out of the norm” and a mark of disapproval by a judge.

The asylum seeker from Chad, who cannot be named for legal reasons, first applied for bail so that he could be released from immigration detention in April 2017. He experienced persecution both in his home country and on his journey to reach Europe when he was imprisoned in Libya.

UK’s U-Turn On Abortion for Northern Ireland’s Women

From Human Rights Watch: The UK government just took an important step in announcing – following a campaign and under pressure from parliament – that the National Health Service (NHS) will carry out abortions at no cost to pregnant women and girls from Northern Ireland who travel to England for the procedure. The decision follows a recent UK Supreme Court judgment that, under devolved health services, women living in Northern Ireland aren’t entitled to free abortions on the NHS in England.

But while the government announcement is positive, it is also a partial and unsatisfactory solution to a problem that should not exist. Women and girls should be able to access safe abortion in Northern Ireland, and the UK government has failed in its obligations to fulfil this right there for too long.

Abortion has been legal in most of the UK since 1967, but the law explicitly excluded Northern Ireland, where it remains criminalized except when the health or life of the woman is at grave risk – denying thousands of women their reproductive rights.

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