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The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 12th March 2018

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 12th March 2018

Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:

Human Rights Law

Reported by Sara Saquib

Silence during the Rohingya crisis: A Human Rights Atrocity

The sorry state of Myanmar has been called out by Human Rights rapporteur Yanghee Lee who has stated today that it is likely that crimes under international law have been committed against Rohingya Muslims.

It is surprising that although the current situation in Myanmar could be the biggest refugee crisis to date, the media have been relatively quiet about it. However, today it has been stated by Yanghee Lee that a thorough investigation is in order of all the actions performed by Myanmar’s military, who claim to have been fighting Rohingya extremists rather than aiming at civilians.

Lee has stated that “the repressive practices of previous military governments are returning as the norm once more” she states that once an investigation has been carried out to consolidate and collect evidence of the human rights violations, it will then be possible to charge people in in international criminal courts.  In addition, she argues that the refusal of the government to comment on these atrocities means that they must be held accountable for these acts.

The military have used the justification of trying to “wipe out extremism” as an excuse to kill and rape several members of what Amnesty have described as “one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.”

In addition to Lee, the three experts of the UN fact-finding mission, were equally adamant that the government have much to owe to the thousands that have been forced to flee, killed or raped.

This may be the first step towards persecuting those who have been responsible for one of the greatest human right’s injustices to date. However, barriers are still in place about the ease of being able to collect evidence given that the UN have been denied access to Rahkine since late last year.

For more information, see the BBC and The Guardian.

Criminal Law

Reported by Andrew MacDonald

London mayor warns big tech companies about hate speech

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has accused the UK government of a ‘dereliction of duty’ for leaving big technology companies unregulated.

Speaking at the South by Southwest technology conference in Austin, Texas, Mr Khan also read out abusive messages posted on Twitter which targeted black, Asian and ethnic minority people. One tweet read out was an alleged death threat aimed at Mr Khan himself.

Mr Khan stated that British politicians have been too slow to react to the ‘tech revolution’ and that current industry regulation was ‘clearly out of date.’ He also urged social media giants Facebook and Twitter to do more to restrict the presence of hate speech online.

The London mayor hinted that if Facebook, Twitter and other platforms did not embrace a ‘stronger duty of care’ then they could be faced with strict regulation that is similar to Germany’s ‘network enforcement law.’ The ‘NetzDG’, came into force by German lawmakers on the 1st January 2018.

The law applies to any internet platform with more than 2 million users to implement more effective ways to delete potentially illegal content such as hate speech. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Instagram, and Snapchat all fall under the new law. Online platforms will face fines of up to €50m (£44m) if they do not delete ‘obviously illegal’ hate speech within 24 hours of receiving a notification.

In light of speaking about the possibility of fines for committing breaches, Mr Khan was careful to make sure people would not perceive London as an anti-tech-start-up city with overburdening regulation: “I want London to be the centre of disruptive technology and businesses thinking of starting up, scaling up or giant tech companies coming to London.”

Read more here and here.

Employment Law

Reported by Radhika Morally

Ending to university strikes in sight?

There has been a development in the recent strike action by the University and College Union (UCU) in regard to a pensions dispute, which could pave the way for the strike action to end as soon as Wednesday 14th March.

As of Monday evening, the UCU has said that talks with Universities UK (UUK) at the ACAS conciliation service have concluded with an agreement of a three-year transitional benefit arrangement, although this is subject to its acceptance by its members.

The talks therefore established that the disputed changes to pensions would be put on hold and a temporary deal would address the deficit. Talks on sustainable long-term pension arrangements would be re-opened from 2020. The agreement also indicates that universities would be expected to reschedule any classes disrupted by the strike. UCU members are expected to meet on Tuesday – if the deal is accepted, the strike action could end as soon as Wednesday.

However, there have been calls on social media for university staff to reject the offer on the table. An open letter opposing the deal says that it is only postponing long-term decisions about the pension scheme and says university staff should continue to campaign to “force a more decisive victory.”

Furthermore, it appears that striking university staff have also reacted unfavourably to the proposed agreement; picket lines have since been busier than usual and one lecturer has described the feeling amongst lecturers as “livid”. Using the hashtag #NoCapitulation, many continue to post on Twitter calling for the deal to be rejected, reasoning, as Dr Donna Yates has, that “this is NOT the deal we have been striking for”.

Therefore, although it seems likely that many university heads would support the deal agreed with the union, the university representative body has told vice chancellors that if the agreement is not accepted, the previous proposal will be reinstated with the likely response being more strikes during the summer term in April and May.

There are likely to be further updates over the next few days.

Read more at the BBC, The Guardian and The Financial Times.

Constitutional Law

Reported by Jutha Cheewat

Norfolk Islanders to challenge Australia on sovereignty

A legal challenge has been launched by International Human Rights Lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, on behalf of the Islanders. The issue was that the Australian government put Norfolk’s culture and language at risk by removing their autonomy.

The Islanders have been governed by the legislative assembly since 1979. In 2015, the Australian government revoked their decision and now state laws are enforced.

One of the supporting evidences for lodging the case came from an Australian linguistics expert, Professor Peter Mühlhäusler, who found that Norfolk Islanders have a distinct ethnicity, culture, and language:

“The literature surveyed as well as field notes, taken over 21 years, confirm the Norfolk Islanders of Pitcairn ancestry remain a genetic isolate. The Norfolk Islanders are distinct from mainland Australians with regard to all parameters that define ethnicity: homeland, shared ancestry, cultural narrative and cultural core values.”

Robertson added that “The government has commandeered the radio station and closed the maternity wing of the hospital – an insidious step to deter births on the island and force women to give birth in Australia”.

In addition, “a particularly cruel result of the recolonisation has been to take away from Norfolk Islanders the long-standing enjoyment of their identity at international and regional political and cultural organisations, and potentially at sporting events”.

Having said that, by being part of the federal system, the islanders are entitled to Medicare and other services, including free movement to and from the island.

Read more here.

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