Last week Tom Watson MP (pictured left), chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drones (APPG), launched a new front in the work of the Group (founded back in 2012). As a parliamentarian with an uncanny ability to spot human rights issues likely to make the headlines and which will hold extended media attention, the subject of drones (both in terms of the UK’s operation of them and its cooperation with the US) was always likely to grab Watson’s attention. But the reason Watson is so high-profile in his myriad pursuits, from trying to bounce Tony Blair into resigning, to vanquishing Rupert Murdock to needling the Government on its drone policy, is his grasp of the role of a backbench MP. Continue reading “Tom Watson’s Triumph? UK Communications Interception, Drone Strikes and the European Convention on Human Rights”
The Edward Snowden Affair tells us much about how the role of intelligence agencies, and legal oversight of their activities, has changed in the 21st century. Some, like Professor Douwe Korff, writing in The Guardian, maintain that the ECHR will provide a legal solution to the questionable activities highlighted by Snowden; ‘under the ECHR the UK has a duty to prevent its US friends like the NSA from spying on the data and communications of British and other individuals. In fact, it does the opposite, and facilitates such access – again in flagrant breach of its ECHR obligations.’ This post examines whether we can indeed put our faith in the Convention when it comes to state surveillance. Continue reading “Edward Snowden, The European Convention on Human Rights and State Surveillance”
Last week, in AKJ and others v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, the English High Court gave judgment in a case considering the behaviour of undercover state agents and the ability of the courts to monitor their acts. The case concerned claims against the police arising from the actions of various Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) who began and maintained sexual relationships with a number of female environmental protestors while acting as undercover officers. The claimants, all political activists, alleged that the sustained deceptions were degrading under Art 3, and that they interfered gravely with the right to respect for their private lives under Art 8, resulting in serious personal injury.
The CHIS had been authorised under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 to act undercover to infiltrate “extreme left wing groups” in the UK and to establish or maintain any personal relationship for that covert purpose .