VCAT declares local council breached resident’s Charter rights

Slattery v Manningham City Council (Human Rights) [2013] VCAT 1869 (30 October 2013)

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has declared that a local council breached a resident’s human rights under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (‘Charter’) when it banned him from accessing its buildings. The Tribunal’s declaration was part of its orders about the appropriate remedy in a claim of discrimination under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) (‘EOA’).

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Canadian Supreme Court holds Iran immune from torture charges

Kazemi Estate v Islamic Republic of Iran [2014] 3 SCR 176 (10 October 2014)

On 10 October 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed proceedings brought by the son of a woman tortured in Iran against the Iranian head of state and two other public officials. The Court held that the Iranian officials were immune from the jurisdiction of Canadian courts by virtue of the State Immunity Act RSC 1985, c. S-18 (‘SIA’). In particular, the operation of the SIA does not deprive a person of a right to a fair hearing in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice, nor does it impinge on the right not to be deprived of life, liberty and security of the person

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Appeal to Occupy Melbourne decision dismissed

Kerrison v Melbourne City Council [2014] FCAFC 130 (3 October 2014)

The Full Court of the Federal Court has dismissed an appeal against a decision in favour of the City of Melbourne regarding the Occupy Melbourne protests in 2011.

The decision has implications for how the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006  applies to public authorities as the Court confirmed the primary decision that the Charter’s obligation ‘to act’ compatibly with human rights does not apply to the making of local laws by a council. In relation to the removal of Ms Kerrison’s “tent dress” at the protest, which was not considered in the primary decision, the Court found the council officers did not breach the right to freedom of expression.

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Russian delay for Scientology in breach of religious freedoms protected in European Convention

Church of Scientology of St Petersburg & Others v Russia (European Court of Human Rights, Chamber, Application No 47191/06, 2 October 2014)

The European Court of Human Rights (‘Court’) has held that a failure to allow the Church of Scientology to register in Russia was in breach of the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of association which are protected under the European Convention on Human Rights (‘Convention’). Russian law required religious groups to be present in Russia for 15 years before applying to be registered. The lack of precision and clarity in the legislation, which, in this case, allowed the Russia Government to delay registration for more than 10 years, rendered the interference unlawful. As for the 15 year requirement, the Court, in obiter, held that such a requirement lacked a legitimate aim

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UK High Court upholds Council's decision to close aged-care home

Karia, R (on the application of) v Leicester City Council [2014] EWHC 3105 (Admin) (30 September 2014)

The UK High Court of Justice has dismissed an application seeking judicial review of a decision made by Leicester City Council to close a Council run aged care home. In reaching this decision, Sir Stephen Silber (sitting as a High Court Judge) confirmed that when determining an alleged infringement of a Convention right the enquiry must be whether rights have been violated rather than if they will or may be violated. His Honour also confirmed that the Public Sector Equality Duty (‘PSED’), contained in the Equality Act 2010 (UK) (‘EA’), 'is not a back door by which challenges to the factual merits of the decision may be made'.

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ECHR Grand Chamber finds deprivation of liberty does not violate EU Convention where carried out in accordance with Geneva Conventions

Hassan v The United Kingdom (European Court of Human Rights, Grand Chamber, Application No 29750/09, 16 September 2014)

In September 2014, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights held that the deprivation of liberty in the context of international armed conflict that is consistent with the four Geneva Conventions does not violate article 5 of the EU Convention, which seeks to safeguard liberty and security.

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High Court invalidates Minister’s decision to grant visa that prevented the granting of a protection visa to asylum seeker

Plaintiff S4-2014 v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2014] HCA 34 (11 September 2014)

The High Court unanimously held invalid the grant by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection of a temporary safe haven visa to the plaintiff – a stateless asylum seeker – which had the effect of precluding the plaintiff from making a valid application for a protection visa, in circumstances where the plaintiff’s detention had been prolonged for the purpose of the Minister considering the exercise of power to allow the plaintiff to make a valid application for a visa of his choice.

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Extradition a violation of the prohibition against inhuman or degrading treatment

Trabelsi v Belgium (European Court of Human Rights, Chamber, Application No 140/10, 4 September 2014)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found that the extradition by the Belgian Government of a Tunisian national, Mr Trabelsi, from Belgium to the United States (US), where he was to be prosecuted on charges of terrorist offences and liable to be sentenced to life in prison, was a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Convention). Article 3 prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment. His right to individual petition under Article 34 of the Convention was also found to have been breached.

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CEDAW Committee rules sexual harassment case inadmissible

M S v Philippines, Communication No. 30/2011, UN Doc. CEDAW/C/58/D/30/2011

A sexual harassment case was recently declared inadmissible by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The complaint concerned the use of gender stereotypes by the domestic courts in the author’s case, amounting to a breach of Articles 5 and 11 of CEDAW. Despite clear examples of gender stereotypes being considered by the domestic courts, the majority of the Committee held there was no evidence that those stereotypes had negatively impacted the domestic court's decision. The dissenting Committee Member found a breach of CEDAW had been substantiated but that the claim was inadmissible as the author had delayed in bringing the case to the Committee.

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