UK Liberty

OGC High Court Appeal

Posted in freedom of information, ID Cards by ukliberty on February 28, 2008

I wondered in an earlier post if the House of Commons would appeal the decision made by the Information Tribunal on the expenses system. In case you think that might be a bit cynical, I’ll point you to a SpyBlog post:

OGC High Court Appeal against FOIA disclosure of ID Cards Programme Gateway Reviews now set to start this Monday 3rd March 2008

Why is the Government wasting public money on this High Court Appeal, which they must surely lose, and then be forced to comply with the rulings of both the Information Commissioner and of the Information Tribunal, to fully disclose to the public, the now out of date Home Office Identity Cards Programme early Gateway Reviews ?

All the possible legal arguments were gone into in exhaustive detail, by the barristers and FOIA legal professors, during the 4 day Information Tribunal hearing back in March 2007, which ruled in favour of full disclosure. …

As in the decision on expenses, the original FOIA request here was made over three years ago.

I fear Ben Leapman, Heather Brooke, and Michael Thomas, still have some way to go, but wish them (and indeed SpyBlog) all the best.

Extraordinary Early Day Motion

Posted in politicians on liberty by ukliberty on February 28, 2008

EDM 982 – 72 signatures so far:

Burgon, Colin

That this House commends the achievements of Fidel Castro in securing first-class free healthcare and education provision for the people of Cuba despite the 44 year illegal US embargo of the Cuban economy; notes the great strides Cuba has taken during this period in many fields such as biotechnology and sport in both of which Cuba is a world leader; acknowledges the esteem in which Castro is held by the people and leaders of Africa, Asia and Latin America for leading the calls for emancipation of the world’s poorest people from slavery, hunger and the denial of human rights such as the right to life, the right to shelter, the right to healthcare and basic medicines and the right to education; welcomes the EU statement that constructive engagement with Cuba at this time is the most responsible course of action; and calls upon the Government to respect Cuba’s right to self-determination and resist the aggressive forces within the US Administration who are openly planning their own illegal transition in Cuba.

And presumably for making the trains run on time.

On the other hand, the EDM does not note that Cuba retains the death penalty nor the following:

At the end of the year, 69 prisoners of conscience continued to be held for their non-violent political views or activities. Twelve others continued to serve their sentences outside prison because of health concerns. No releases of prisoners of conscience were reported during the year.

• Orlando Zapata Tamayo was sentenced to three years in 2003 on charges of showing “contempt to the figure of Fidel Castro”, “public disorder” and “resistance”. In November 2005 he was reportedly sentenced to an additional 15 years for “contempt” and “resistance” in prison. In May 2006, he was again tried on the same charges and sentenced to an additional seven-year term. He was serving a prison sentence of 25 years and six months.

Scores of people continued to be held without charge on suspicion of counter-revolutionary activities or on unclear charges. Their legal status remained unclear at the end of the year.

• Prisoner of conscience Oscar Mariano González Pérez, an independent journalist who was arrested in July 2005 as he was about to take part in a demonstration in front of the French embassy, remained in detention without charge or trial.

Severe restrictions on freedom of expression and association persisted. All print and broadcast media remained under state control. There was a rise in the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists and librarians. People suspected of links with dissident groups or involved in promoting human rights were arrested and detained. There was an increase in arrests on charges of “pre-criminal dangerousness”. Access to the Internet remained severely limited outside governmental offices and educational institutions. Journalist Guillermo Fariñas staged a seven-month hunger strike to obtain access to the Internet, without success.

• Armando Betancourt Reina, a freelance journalist, was arrested on 23 May as he took notes and photographs of evictions from a house in the city of Camagüey. He was charged with public disorder. Armando Betancourt was reportedly held incommunicado for a week at the police station before being transferred to Cerámica Roja prison in Camagüey on 6 June. He was awaiting trial at the end of the year.

There was an increase in the public harassment and intimidation of human rights activists and political dissidents by quasi-official groups in so-called acts of repudiation.

• Juan Carlos González Leiva, President of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights, was reportedly the target of several “acts of repudiation” – involving government supporters reportedly acting with the collusion of the authorities – at his home in the city of Ciego de Avila. He and his family were repeatedly threatened by demonstrators. Juan Carlos González Leiva, who is blind, was arrested in March 2002 for “disrespect”, “public disorder”, “resistance” and “disobedience” and spent two years in prison without trial. In April 2004 he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, to be served at his home.

• Cuba: Fundamental freedoms still under attack (AI Index: AMR 25/001/2006)

• Cuba: Fear for safety/Fear of torture/intimidation/harassment – Miguel Valdés Tamayo and Juan Carlos González Leiva (AI Index: AMR 25/002/2006)

– Amnesty International

Perhaps Colin Burgon et al are envious of the Castro regime?

The presumption of guilt and an attack on due process

Posted in law and order, politicians on liberty, rule of law by ukliberty on February 28, 2008

The Guardian:

[Home Secretary Jacqui] Smith defended plans to confiscate assets on arrest: “At the moment, we seize quite a large number of assets from drug dealers, but at the point of conviction. What sometimes happens between arrest and conviction is that these things can be salted away and disappear.

“I think taking them at the point of arrest is the right thing to do. Obviously, if somebody is completely innocent, then they can get their assets back.

‘Somebody’ is innocent in this country unless they have been convicted of a crime.

See also Transform’s blog.