Weekly News Round-up 28/10/16

UK News

Date set for court challenge to ban British arms sales to Saudi Arabia

A date has been set for a High Court court challenge that could halt British arms sales to Saudi Arabia – amid mounting accusations the country is committing war crimes

Saudi Arabia is conducting a military operation in Yemen and has been accused by UN bodies, human rights groups, and other NGOs of committing war crimes. Reports on the ground say it has bombed civilian targets including funerals, international hospitals, schools, and food factories.

The Government’s own arms export conditions say that licences should not be issued if there is a possibility they could be used to commit war crimes.

Ministers have however refused to consider suspending arms exports to the country – and sensationally claimed that Saudi Arabia is best-placed to investigate its own alleged atrocities. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly cleared itself of any significant wrongdoing when it has investigated its own military.

Full Independent article here.

Northern Ireland High Court rejects Brexit challenge

A challenge to the Prime Minister’s power to trigger Brexit negotiations has been dismissed at Belfast High Court.

A cross-party group of politicians had claimed the country should have a veto on an exit and said the Stormont Assembly should have a say on whether to trigger negotiations with Europe. The Brexit challengers said it would be unlawful to trigger Article 50 without Northern Irish consent and that leaving the EU would undermine the Good Friday agreement, the peace process and other fundamental rights.

But the High Court ruled against the challenge saying that it was not viable that NI could veto Brexit for the rest of the UK.

Full ITV article here.

UK’s Prevent counter-radicalisation policy ‘badly flawed’

The British government’s key counter-radicalisation policy is badly flawed, potentially counterproductive and risks trampling on the basic rights of young Muslims, a new study has concluded.

Following a nine-month examination of the programme known as Prevent, the Open Society Justice Initiative has recommended a major government rethink, particularly on its use in the education and health systems.

It is the second time in three months that Prevent has faced criticisms following a major study. In July, another NGO, Rights Watch UK, concluded that the programme stifles free speech. A United Nations special rapporteur has also warned that the programme may stifle healthy discussion and debate.

Full Guardian article here.

MPs and peers question independence of press watchdog

The press watchdog is facing questions over its independence after Trevor Kavanagh, one of its board members, used his regular Sun column to criticise the Channel 4 News reporter Fatima Manji just days after her complaint against the tabloid was rejected.

Manji, a Muslim woman who wears the hijab, had complained to Ipso about Kelvin MacKenzie’s Sun article in July. In it, he suggested she should not have been allowed to present Channel 4 News on the night the Nice terror attack was carried out by an Islamic extremist.

The article was inaccurate and constituted discrimination and harassment because it singled Manji out on the basis of her religion, it was claimed. But the complaint was rejected by Ipso, which said that “while the columnist’s opinion was undoubtedly offensive to the complainant, and to others, these were views he had been entitled to express”.

MPs and lords wrote to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) chair Alan Moses, saying: “We seek your urgent clarification on whether you believe that Mr Kavanagh’s public attack on a complainant to Ipso is in breach of the expectations of an independent press regulator, and whether his position on the board remains tenable.”

Full Guardian article here.

Apple hikes MacBook and iMac prices by 20pc in response to post-Brexit sterling fall

Hidden behind the excitement of the MacBook Pro launch on Thursday night, the company quietly raised the price of its Mac computers to make its products significantly more expensive in the UK.

The price hike, which affects Apple’s laptops and desktop computers, raises the cost of Apple’s products in the UK by as much as 20 per cent.

The company does not appear to have levied similar price rises internationally, which suggests that it could be a fallout of currency fluctuations in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union.

Full Telegraph article here.

World News
Calais Jungle closed: Unaccompanied children left in limbo as evacuation continues

Lone children in the Calais ‘Jungle’ were forced to wait hours to register for the right to live in Europe or told to “come back tomorrow”, on the first day of the demolition of the camp, as a designated queue for unaccompanied minors became overrun because more refugees turned up than were anticipated.

Many children were seen wandering the camp desperately asking volunteers what to do after arriving at the registration centre to find they weren’t being let in.

Youth services working in the Jungle have expressed serious concerns at the way unaccompanied minors – referred to as “bambinos” in the camp – have been left confused and anxious by the lack of clear information about how they can claim their right to live in the UK or France.

The news follows the Home Office’s announcement that the transfer of refugee children from the camp to Britain has been “temporarily paused” while the closure of the camp is underway.

Full Independent article here.

Unrepresented News

Series launch: Privacy is a Human Right

Last week we launched our ‘Privacy is a Human Right’ series with a trip to the London Playhouse Theatre to see 1984. Post show discussions included the legality of mass surveillance and its impact on privacy, freedom of expression, thought and association.

“I fear there will never be a time when Orwell’s dystopian nightmare won’t resonate and, sadly, in this post-Brexit, post-Snowden, post-Manning world of ours, it’s impossible not to see warnings in its themes of constant surveillance, unchecked power of the elites, dominant single socio-economic ideology, media manipulation turning fiction into facts, and withering punishment of any dissenting voices.”

Full Huffington Post review here.

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