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The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 25th June 2018

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 25th June 2018

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

Equality Law

Reported by Anna Flaherty

Women No Longer Banned From Driving in Saudi Arabia

A ban, stopping women from driving, was lifted last week. Women with licences took to the road to drive for the first time in their country, with many of them being treated like celebrities. The reasoning behind the lift of the ban is to introduce more women into the workforce. Samar Almogren, a writer and talkshow host, said that “I feel free like a bird”. Another woman, Fadya Basma, said that “It’s a wonderful day […] and it will change things. Saudi will never be the same again”.

However, Saudi Arabia still has far to go in terms of gender equality. A Saudi Uber driver was quoted as saying “I don’t support women driving because I believe they are not the best drivers”, and told The Guardian that he would not allow his sisters to drive. This conveys how many women’s opportunity to drive may entirely depend on the will of the male members of their family. Furthermore, many activists who have been arrested for their protests, prior to the lifting of the ban, still remain in prison for their conduct.

For more information, see The Guardian and The Independent.

Discrimination Law

Reported by Jutha Cheewat

ECJ Rules That State Pension Law Directly Discriminates Transgender Woman

Earlier this week, The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the UK government discriminated against the claimant, a transgender woman, as the law denies her pension in relation to gender-based retirement age.

The UK Supreme court referred the case to the ECJ. The claimant named MB was born a male in 1948. She began living as a woman since 1991 and had a surgery in 1995.

When the claimant turned 60, She applied for a state pension but was denied the right to access, according to the new gender, due to the absence of a gender reassignment certificate. The issue was that in order to have the certificate she had to annul her marriage with her wife but she did not for a religious reason.

On Tuesday the ECJ gave its judgment that The UK legislation constitutes direct discrimination based on sex. The court essentially said that:

“The purpose of the UK’s statutory pension scheme is to provide protection against the risks of old age by conferring on the person concerned the right to a retirement pension acquired in relation to the contributions paid by that person during his or her working life, irrespective of marital status…” The court recognised that transgender individual seemed to have been treated less favourably under the jurisdiction.

MB’s Lawyers believe that ‘This is a small decision but it has great importance in the move towards increased equality and respect’.

For more information, see Politico, The Independent and The Guardian.

Criminal Law

Reported by Sara Saquib

International Criminal Court call for an investigation of the Myanmar crisis

The Rohingya refugee crisis was brought to the world’s attention in 2015. The Muslim minority group have been experiencing widespread discrimination, with the Myanmar government having called for what most would say is the mass genocide of the Rohingya. The minority group have been given names such as “the boat people” and have been called “stateless entities” since the Myanmar government refused to recognise them as an ethnic group.

On Saturday the 23rd of June, The International Criminal Court called to investigate the treatment of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Since 2015 many Rohingya Muslims have been put through gruelling treatment, with news emerging that soldiers in Myanmar even stepped on babies in an attempt to suffocate and kill them. This treatment clearly marks the Myanmar’s military’s callous attempt of “ethnic cleansing”.

The ICC now want to call another investigation, after it was found out that women had been tied to trees and gang raped in addition to men being pushed into graves, while petrol is poured over them and they are set alight.

It is clear that action has been needed for a long time. However, the difficulty of an investigation of the sort was questioned when the prosecutors of the International Criminal Court met to discuss whether the Rohingya crisis was something that the court could adequately try to tackle.

Although a criminal probe has been sent to the Myanmar government, there are other difficulties with making a case. One being that the government deny that there has been any unjustified use of military force used against the minority group. However, the government now have until July the 27th to respond to the criminal allegations and to show that the ICC cannot make a case against them.

It is unclear how the government will react, but given their refusal to accept that they have committed crimes targeted at the Rohingya’s, it is thought that they will not respond well. Hopefully, this is the first step to Myanmar’s military being prosecuted for crimes they have been committing for too long.

Find out more here, here and here.

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