PolLaw Express: 30th July edition.

Your daily dose of politics and the law. NI intrigued? Covered. UK focused? Sure. US-centric? You got it.

PolLaw Express blog photo

Welcome to the daily news round-up via my e-newspaper. Here are the top stories from today:

(This is the last daily news round-up for a time, as I will be going on holiday tomorrow morning. See you on the 10th August!)

1. British forces illegally detained Afghan suspect, Court of Appeal rules (via The Guardian)
~ The Court of Appeal today ruled that an Afghan suspect was detained illegally by British forces for almost four months and denied access to a lawyer.

Serdar Mohammed, who was captured by UK soldiers in April 2010, was not handed over to the Afghan security services until July that year – this was despite regulations requiring any transfer to take place within 96 hours. Mohammed has since claimed that the Afghan authorities tortured him.

The case highlights the effect of UK forces overseas being subject to the European Convention on Human Rights, rather than the Geneva Conventions on warfare. It is a legal position on which the judges involved – the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Lord Justice Beaston – expressed misgivings.

In their judgment, they referred to their:

‘significant reservations in respect of the correctness of the decision extending the ECHR to the battlefield as established by the decision of the Strasbourg court in [the case of ] Al-Skeini. We are, however, bound by the decision of the supreme court in Smith v MoD, which applies the decision in Al-Skeini.

‘Difficult questions, both legal and practical, will undoubtedly arise as to how the ECHR protections, designed to regulate the domestic exercise of state power, are to be applied in the very different context of extraterritorial military operations.’

Regardless of this, the three judges went on to state that :

‘The arrangements made by the Secretary of State in relation to the deployment of HM armed forces to Afghanistan, and for the detention of those engaged in attacking HM armed forces did not enable persons to be detained by HM armed forces for longer than 96 hours….

‘[Mohammed’s] claim succeeds because the Secretary of State is unable to show a lawful basis for the detention.’

Mohammed is now seeking damages for his unlawful detention.

2. David Cameron criticised over migrant ‘swarm’ language (via BBC News)
~ Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised for his description of migrants trying to reach Britain as a ‘swarm’.

When asked about the latest Calais crisis, he spoke of ‘a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life, wanting to come to Britain’.

In the latest crisis to strike Calais, hundreds of migrants tried to enter the Channel Tunnel overnight. Thousands of migrants have been trying to reach the UK from Calais this week, with nine people killed attempting to cross the Channel in the past month.

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman said in a statement that the Prime Minister ‘should remember he is talking about people and not insects’ and called the use of ‘divisive’ language a ‘worrying turn’.

The UN Special Representative for International Migration accused British politicians of adopting a ‘xenophobic response’ to the migrants crisis and said their the language had been ‘grossly excessive’.

This is in addition to criticism from the Refugee Council, which works with refugees in the UK, said his comments were ‘irresponsible’ and ‘dehumanising’. It added:

‘This sort of rhetoric is extremely inflammatory and comes at a time when the Government should be focused on working with its European counterparts to respond calmly and compassionately to this dreadful humanitarian crisis.’

3. Calais migrant crisis: Cameron warns UK is ‘no safe haven’ (via BBC News)
~ In addition to the above news story, we have another one.

David Cameron has warned that the UK will not become a ‘safe haven’ for migrants in Calais, after hundreds continued their attempts to cross from France.

The Prime Minister warned that illegal immigrants would be removed, as migrants told the BBC they remained determined to reach the UK.

Mr Cameron was speaking after people gathered for a third night at fencing at the Channel Tunnel freight terminal. Over 3,500 attempts have been made this week to get into the tunnel.

This comes as new fencing supplied by the UK government is being installed in Calais and Eurotunnel said it would protect the platform area where vehicles are loaded on to the train shuttles.

Kent Police has for the first time asked for neighbouring forces to provide officers to help in the policing of Operation Stack – where lorries wait on the M20 in the county when Channel crossings are disrupted.

Highways England said there were nearly 6,000 lorries parked on the motorway as part of Operation Stack, which will continue into the weekend.

4. Labour leadership: Beware the muddled huddle (via BBC News)
~ This is simply an interesting little article courtesy of Mark Mardell about the ongoing Labour leadership contest.

Mr Mardell notes that he cannot ‘help noting that the Labour leadership has been having an attack of the vapours.’

He goes on to make several interesting points about the aftermath of the recent General Election and the consequence for Labour:

Complacency is never wise, but perhaps a bit of perspective is valuable.

We may be at a critical break point, but we may not. Democratic politics tends to go in cycles.

After a longish time in government, which ends in defeat and disappointment, it takes a while for the electorate to trust that party again.

He concludes on an intriguing note:

Cameron won the centre ground of competence – Ed Miliband was seen as extreme, but not because of the mansion tax.

He was seen as extremely unlikely to be a good prime minister.

Elections are won in the centre ground – but that means shared perceptions of competence and charisma, hopes and fears, not a nauseating mixture of Marmite and marmalade.

You can also read this article from The News Statesmen; it wearily bemoans the calibre of the leadership candidates, asking ‘where are the giants?’

Look out for this paragraph:

Small wonder that Tory MPs went off for the summer recess with a spring in their step. One minister I spoke to before the House adjourned said, ‘The only question for Labour in 2020 is the scale of our victory over them.’

5. Hillary Clinton Losing Strength in New National Polling (via Time)
~ Just six weeks after announcing her candidacy, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers are continuing to fall, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll that was released on Thursday.

Across nearly every key metric, whether it is from trustworthiness to caring about voters to leadership, Clinton has seen an evident decrease in public approval, as likely Republican rivals have erased her leads in the poll. Clinton has a net -11 favourability rating in the poll, with some 40% of the American public viewing her positively and 51% negatively, with more than 50% of independents on the negative side.

If the election were held today, Clinton would be tied with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the poll—down from significant leads in a May 28 survey—but would top the current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

Speaking of Donald Trump, you can read the POLITICO take on the poll here.

POLITICO states how Trump’s strength in the aforementioned poll comes primarily from male voters; he has around 24 percent of the vote among men. Yet surprisingly, he also leads among female voters, with 15 percent of the vote to Bush’s 12 percent and Walker’s 9 percent.

POLITICO does wryly add that the poll was conducted between the 23rd – 28th July, prior to the controversial statements by Trump’s attorney about an incident in which Trump’s ex-wife accused Trump of assaulting her, and entirely before The New York Times reported Trump had called a female attorney deposing him “disgusting” for asking to take a break so that she could use a breast pump.

To read these headlines and more besides, why not visit PolLaw Express?

I will be away on holiday (ahoj, Prague!) from this Friday 31st July to Saturday 8th August. PolLaw Express daily news round-ups will therefore not be posted during these dates, and will resume on Monday 10th August.


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