Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2018, 14:34 GMT

World Report 2013 - European Union: United Kingdom

Publisher Human Rights Watch
Publication Date 31 January 2013
Cite as Human Rights Watch, World Report 2013 - European Union: United Kingdom, 31 January 2013, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

In May, the government reduced pre-charge detention in terrorism cases from 28 to 14 days, but left open the possibility for parliament to reinstate 28 days in an emergency. Replacements to control orders on terrorism suspects no longer permit forced relocation and are subject to stricter time limits. But the new measures can still be based in part on secret evidence, and parliament can quickly approve harsher powers in an emergency.

A draft law in parliament at this writing would widen use of secret hearings in civil courts on national security grounds and prevent material that shows UK involvement in wrongdoing by other countries being disclosed. In September, the UN special rapporteur on torture expressed concern that the draft law could inhibit accountability for torture.

In January, the government halted a widely criticized inquiry into UK involvement in rendition and torture. It cited new criminal investigations into UK complicity in rendition and torture in Libya by former dictator Muammar Gaddafi's security forces. Although the government promised a second inquiry, it was unclear at this writing when it would begin, and whether it would have the necessary independence and powers.

In January, the ECtHR blocked deportation of Jordanian terrorism suspect Abu Qatada due to the risk of evidence obtained through torture being used against him at trial upon return, but also held that diplomatic assurances were sufficient to protect him from torture or ill-treatment. In November, a UK court ordered Qatada's release from custody saying it was not satisfied that he would received a fair trial in Jordan; he was placed under house arrest.

In October, the UK extradited five terrorism suspects to the US after the ECtHR in September definitively rejected their appeals that they would face ill-treatment.

In June, the government signed the CoE Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, but continued to reject calls to sign the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. Instead, in April it changed immigration rules that will make it harder for foreign domestic workers to leave abusive situations without losing their immigration status.

The UK continued to deport failed Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers, including 25 on a chartered flight in September, despite evidence of torture upon return for some Tamils with perceived links to Sri Lanka's separatist Tamil Tigers.

Official statistics published in August revealed that the number of children being detained with their parents pending deportation was rising, although such detention is limited to one week. In April, the UK Border Authority suspended a pilot program to use dental x-rays to determine age, amid medical ethics concerns.

In September, the UK's chief prosecutor announced he would develop guidelines related to prosecuting offensive speech on the internet and social media after a series of controversial convictions raised free expression concerns.

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