The round-up of the stories that a budding Student Lawyer should be aware of this week. Sign up here to get these updates in your inbox every week.
Julian Assange to remain in prison after jail sentence finishes
Reported by Jutha Cheewat
The famous Wikileaks co-founder will stay in prison after his jail term ends. He was due to be released on 22nd September 2019 for breaching his earlier bail conditions under the Bail Act. Westminster Magistrates’ Court judge ruled last Friday that there were “substantial grounds” that suggested Assange should remain in prison.
This is because the 48 year old Australian may more than likely flee according to his extensive “history of absconding”.
Assange was sentenced for 50 weeks in HM Prison Belmarsh. The district judge who heard his case, Vanessa Baraitser, told Assange through a video link that “You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end. When that happens, your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.
However, “perhaps not surprisingly in light of your history of absconding in these proceedings. In my view I have substantial ground for believing if I release you, you will abscond again”.
Earlier in June the Home Secretary, Sajid Javis, signed an order allowing him to be extradited to the US. The order means Assange will be facing allegations over leaking and unlawfully obtaining classified documents related to the national defense while being detained.
In addition, his rape allegations will also be reinvestigated by Swedish prosecutors in May.
UK appoints Domestic Abuse Commissioner
Reported by Ellena Mottram
On the 18th September, the Home Secretary announced the appointment of Nicole Jacobs as the UK’s first Domestic Abuse Commissioner. Ms Jacobs previously worked as the Chief Executive Office at the Standing Together Against Domestic Violence charity and has worked for more than two decades to reduce domestic abuse. The Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s role will focus on improving responses to domestic abuse in the UK, championing victims and making recommendations on what more should be done to protect victims and bring offenders to justice.
Following these recommendations, The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice will then place duties on public bodies and Government ministers to co-operate and respond with the recommendations made by the Commissioner. These bodies will have 56 days to respond to the recommendations made by Ms Jacobson.
The Commissioner will also assess and monitor the provision of services to people affected by domestic violence. As part of her role, Ms Jacobson will also have the power to publish reports which can hold local commissioners, statutory agencies and the Government to account for the potential failings highlighted in the reports.
The Government has highlighted the Commissioner will be given a budget of £1.1 million per annum and the Department headed by the Commissioner will be sponsored by the Home Office.
Whilst Ms Jacobs has been appointed as the UK’s first Domestic Abuse Commissioner, she will work as the designate commissioner, until the
commissioner’s office is placed on a statutory footing, where it will become an independent statutory office. Additionally, she will be supported by an office of civil servants to help achieve the objectives of the Commissioner.
The position of Domestic Abuse Commissioner will be placed on a statutory footing by the Domestic Abuse Bill which is currently in its drafting stage. The Bill will establish the role of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner to ensure there is an individual in charge of public leadership on domestic abuse, and to oversee the monitoring of domestic abuse services across England and Wales. The Student Lawyer recently wrote an in-depth article about the Domestic Abuse Bill, which can be found here.
China’s targets for the UN climate change summit
Reported by Laurence Tsai
UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has repeated urged countries to provide concrete plans and strategies for the decarbonization of their economies. These strategies will be heard today at the UN climate change summit in New York.
One aim of the summit is to remind countries to bring more than just ambitious targets or flowery words if the world is to keep global warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius.
Back in 2015, in the UN’s climate change meeting in Paris, China, still the number one greenhouse gas emitter in the world, insisted that the emissions goals agreed at the meeting must be upheld. However, the looming uncertainty that the trade war brings suggests that the conflict, amongst other factors, would make it less likely that China can achieve its goals to reduce emissions as promised.
Unsurprisingly, the country’s energy production from coal remains extremely high. Considering it is one of the largest countries in the world – and is only growing in population – it must implement extreme changes to its energy systems to meet its climate targets. One such change includes the establishment of “an economic system that is green and low-carbon cycle development”. Other positive notes include China’s use of wind and solar panel technologies to generate electricity. These technologies highlight China’s ambitious commitment to reduce the country’s economic dependency on labour-intensive manufacturing and boost the role of high technology and services.
Moreover, Beijing is on track to drop out from the list of the world’s top 200 most-polluted cities this year, with hazardous smog concentrations falling to their lowest on record in August. In anticipation of celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on October 1 st , Beijing is restricting fireworks and fuels sales to minimise its air pollution.
China has since reaffirmed its commitment to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement and is on track with its commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions. China is expected to speak at the summit and Guterres is very confident that China will attend the summit with a high level of ambition.
Increase of sexual assaults on the London Underground
Reported by Emma Ducroix
According to campaigners against sexual assault, the London underground needs to be more safe and more must be done to stop attackers, whose offences are often unreported.
Andrea Simon, the End Violence Against Women Coalition’s head of public affairs, said: “It’s not enough to just encourage the reporting of sexual harassment and assaults. Alongside this we need to be proactively identifying offenders and stopping them.” She added: “We know that those committing sexual offenses will enter the transport system purposefully in order to commit those offenses….CCTV shows that they will move around the transport network looking for women to target, most often during the commuter rush hours when the tube network is busiest.”
Indeed, sexual assaults reported on the tube have soared by 42% in the last four years; a shocking statistic. The figures, released by the mayor of London’s office, show there have been 138 sexual assaults on the night tube since it was phased in on some lines.
In the 12 months prior to March 2019, there were 305 recorded sexual assaults on the Central line, making up about a quarter of the total for the year. The Central line, which does not have CCTV cameras on its trains, had the most recorded assaults. The Central line is the second busiest on the tube network with some of the oldest trains. Siwan Hayward, TfL director of policing, said: “More undercover patrols take place on the Central line than any other line and a programme of work is under way to install CCTV on the line as quickly as possible from 2020.” However it wouldn’t be completed before 2023.
Now there are some 3,000 police and police community support officers dedicated to catching sex offenders.
“This activity includes running regular covert patrols on the tube network with plain-clothed officers, which have been successful in catching offenders and encouraging more people to report offenses,” Ms Hayward added.
The British Transport Police (BTP) said the surveillance will be raised following the drive to encourage victims to report unwanted sexual behavior. A campaign launched by police and TfL called Report It to Stop It aims to encourage anyone who experiences unwanted sexual behavioor on public transport to come forward.
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