Sunday, 16 November 2014

Inner Temple Book Prize

The Inner Temple has just announced its 2015 Book Prize. Original works published between 2 February 2011 and 31 December 2014 are eligible, and there are no restrictions on authors' domicile or nationality. The prizes are very generous - £12,000 for the main prize and £5,000 for the New Authors Prize. Further information can be found here.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Dr Margaret deGuzman

Margaret deGuzman successfully defended her doctoral thesis at the National University of Ireland Galway on 10 November 2014. Her thesis is entitled 'Shocking the Conscience of Humanity: Gravity and the Legitimacy of International Criminal Law'. She was examined by Prof. Kevin Jon Heller of the School of African and Oriental Studies and Prof. Ray Murphy of NUI Galway. Dr Shane Darce chaired the examination. She was supervised by Prof. William Schabas. Meg deGuzman is a Professor at Temple University School of Law. Congratulations!
From left, Ray Murphy, Kevin Heller (on skype), Meg deGuzman and Shane Darcy.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

'Indefinite Adjournment' or 'Deferment'?

I have read, with great interest, the transcript from the status conference in the Kenyatta case before the International Criminal Court last month. In it, the prosecution requests an 'indefinite adjournment' of the case, by which it means an 'adjourn[ment of] the case without fixing a date'. This is a remarkable request, and raises serious fair trial issues insofar as the prosecution has essentially proposed to allow the matter to drag on indefinitely without any fixed date for the start of trial, owing to insufficiencies in its own evidence. One is reminded of Kafka's The Trial:

"Deferment," said the painter, looking vaguely in front of himself for a while as if trying to find a perfectly appropriate explanation, "deferment consists of keeping proceedings permanently in their earliest stages. To do that, the accused and those helping him need to keep in continuous personal contact with the court, especially those helping him. I repeat, this doesn't require so much effort as getting an apparent acquittal, but it probably requires a lot more attention. You must never let the trial out of your sight… you can be reasonably sure the trial won't get past its first stages. The trial doesn't stop, but the defendant is almost as certain of avoiding conviction as if he'd been acquitted… Proceedings can't be prevented from moving forward unless there are some at least ostensible reasons given. So something needs to seem to be happening when looked at from the outside. This means that from time to time various injunctions have to be obeyed, the accused has to be questioned, investigations have to take place and so on. The trial's been artificially constrained inside a tiny circle, and it has to be continuously spun round within it.

The request is also notable for the suggestion that the nebulous concept of the 'interests of justice' should be tantamount to the rights of the accused:

In particular, the Prosecution submit, the interests of justice should be paramount here. I don't mean to say that the defendant's rights should be ignored for a moment, but the interests of justice should, I submit, be the most important consideration in your Honours' minds.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Public lecture: ‘How do we Protect Liberty without a Bill of Rights - Lessons from the Cold War’

‘How do we Protect Liberty without a Bill of Rights - Lessons from the Cold War’
by Professor Keith Ewing,  Professor of Public Law, King’s College, London 

Wednesday,  12 November 2014 at 5pm
Lecture Theatre 7, Rendall Building

Human Rights and International Law Unit
School of Law and Social Justice
University of Liverpool

Recent revelations about MI5 surveillance of academics raise serious questions about the application of constitutional values during the Cold War.   In fact, it was the tip of the iceberg, with tens if not hundreds of thousands of British citizens under surveillance by the State.   How was this allowed to happen in a liberal democracy?   Conversely, the Communist Party was not banned in the United Kingdom, unlike in the United States where constitutional values were legally embedded.   Indeed, in the post war era there was a strong commitment at the highest levels of British government to constitutional values such as freedom of expression and freedom of association in a country without a Bill of Rights.   What explains these extraordinary contradictions?   How was it possible by political means to protect political liberty in a system where judges perceived their role to be one of facilitating the process of government?   What were the relative strengths and weaknesses of these political protections of constitutional values, and why did they fail so spectacularly in the case of surveillance?

A wine reception will follow the event.