World Report 2014 - United Kingdom

Senior ministers regularly attacked the Human Rights Act and the ECtHR, and Home Secretary Teresa May stated that if re-elected in 2015 the Conservative party would scrap the Act and possibly withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.

Accountability for counterterrorism and overseas abuse suffered setbacks. An April law extended secret hearings on national security grounds in civil courts. The government did not establish a new inquiry into UK involvement in rendition and torture overseas, nor had it published any part of the aborted Gibson inquiry’s interim report.

The UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) urged the UK in May to establish a comprehensive inquiry into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment during the UK’s military intervention in Iraq between 2003 and 2009. The same month, the High Court said there had been no adequate inquiry into the deaths of Iraqis in British custody except in one case, and in a second ruling in October ordered public inquiries into alleged killings of Iraqis by British forces. A public judge-led inquiry investigating the alleged torture and execution of up to 20 Iraqis by British soldiers in Iraq in 2004 began in March. In November, a military court convicted a UK marine of murdering an injured Afghan prisoner in September 2011 in Afghanistan.

Jordanian cleric Abu Qatada was deported in July to face terrorism charges in Jordan on the basis of a treaty guaranteeing the right to a fair trial, but concerns remained about the use of torture evidence.

Same-sex marriage became legal in July.

In November, the trial began of two men for the brutal murder in May of British soldier Lee Rigby in London. Attacks against Muslims and Islamic centers, including arson attacks, rose in the months following Rigby’s murder. In London, the Metropolitan police recorded a 51 percent rise in anti-Muslim crime in the 12 months leading up to October 2013, compared to the previous year.

In July, the CEDAW Committee urged the UK to mitigate the impact of cuts to services to women, particularly women with disabilities and older women. In September, the UN special rapporteur on the right to housing, Raquel Rolnik, criticized the impact of austerity measures, noting also testimonies of discrimination in housing against Roma and Traveller communities, migrants, and asylum seekers.

Rights groups reported worsening abuse of migrant domestic workers since their right to change employers was removed in 2012.

In September, UN special rapporteurs on freedom of expression and on human rights and counterterrorism requested further information on the August detention of David Miranda, the partner of a Guardian newspaper journalist who wrote articles about US surveillance programs, for nine hours at Heathrow airport, the maximum time allowed under UK anti-terrorism law. The High Court heard Miranda’s challenge to the legality of his detention in November. In October Prime Minister David Cameron specifically mentioned theGuardian when he warned that the government could take unspecified action against newspapers if they did not show “social responsibility” in reporting on mass surveillance.

In May, the UN CAT called for a “comprehensive framework for transitional justice” in Northern Ireland. An inter-party group in the Northern Ireland executive was expected to deliver recommendations on controversial issues by the end of the year.

In February, the High Court suspended returns of Tamils to Sri Lanka pending a review of an immigration tribunal’s country guidance on Sri Lanka. The new guidance in July acknowledged torture, bribery, and availability of mental health treatment in Sri Lanka as relevant factors, but narrowed the group of people whose asylum claims are likely to succeed.