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February 2023 Update

Image: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Dear Friends,

These days, the Rule of Law is almost constantly in the news - and the fight to defend and strengthen it continues even in great adversity. Ukraine, which is seeking EU membership, is achieving "impressive progress" on the necessary institutional reforms, according to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Anti-corruption measures, in particular, have been "delivering tangible results" (including dismissals and resignations of senior officials).

We were humbled last week to hear first hand about these reforms from a Ukrainian delegation led by the Supreme Court President, Vsevolod Knyazev, in a high-level roundtable at BIICL, the Institute of which the Bingham Centre forms a part. Justice Knyazev and his colleagues spoke movingly and inspiringly of their work to keep the courts functioning during war-time and to meet a myriad of other challenges from the prosecution of war crimes to accelerating the digitalisation of court processes. The Ukrainian delegation met with senior UK judges including the President of the Supreme Court, Lord Reed of Allermuir, and the meeting was chaired by one of Lord Reed's predecessors, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, who is the current President of BIICL.

Closer to home, calls by senior politicians for the UK to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights have cast a long shadow. However, other news has been better. The House of Lords amended the Public Order Bill  to remove further restrictions on the right to protest. The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, agreed that the Rule of Law was "non-negotiable", in a recent meeting held in private. This week finally saw the publication of the Government-commissioned review by William Shawcross of the Prevent strategy in relation to radicalisation and potential terrorism risks. This review has been endorsed by the Government, but attracted a range of responses, including much criticism. It raises complex issues, which are among those being considered by the Bingham Centre's Independent Commission on UK Counter-Terrorism Law, Policy and Practice, a long-term project that will produce its final report in 2024.

The Bingham Centre is increasingly concentrating on long-term projects of this kind, to make in-depth and evidence-based contributions to our understanding of major Rule of Law challenges. Another example of this is our Independent Commission on UK Public Health Emergency Powers.

As a consequence, we have decided to reduce the frequency of our email newsletter, which will now be a Monthly Update. We will still bring you news of our publications, events and activities as before.

In today's Update:

  • Counter-terrorism: oversight of executive and administrative measures
  • Public health emergency powers: comparative models from abroad
  • New bill(s) of rights in the UK? Five key IHRL obligations
  • Housing rights and the Rule of Law: a podcast
  • News from the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre
  • Upcoming BIICL training courses available for booking

You can read the whole update here.

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