Annual Report: United Kingdom 2013

May 29, 2013

Annual Report: United Kingdom 2013

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  • In October, the Supreme Court upheld the writ of habeas corpus in the case of Yunus Rahmatullah. He was captured by UK forces in Iraq in February 2004 and handed over to US forces, which transferred him to Afghanistan where he was detained without charge. The Supreme Court stated that there was evidence that Yunus Rahmatullah's detention was unlawful under the Geneva Conventions and that the UK was obliged to request his return. However, the Supreme Court found that the USA's refusal to transfer Yunus Rahmatullah to UK custody was sufficient to demonstrate that the UK could not secure his release.

Police and security forces

In January, two men were convicted of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. In 1999, an inquiry into the case found that the police investigation had been flawed “by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers”.

In July, a police officer was found not guilty of manslaughter in the case of Ian Tomlinson who died during the G-20 demonstrations in London in April 2009. In an inquest in 2011, a jury had returned a verdict of unlawful killing, finding that Ian Tomlinson had died of internal bleeding after being struck with a baton and pushed to the ground by a police officer. In September, an MPS disciplinary panel ruled that the police officer's action constituted gross misconduct.

Northern Ireland

Incidents of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland continued. On 1 November, David Black, a prison officer, was shot dead; dissident republicans claimed responsibility. A number of elected representatives and journalists experienced threats of or actual violence from loyalist paramilitary or anonymous sources. Public disorder during the year resulted in injuries to police officers and others.

In October, an inquiry established by the Northern Ireland Executive, into institutional child abuse during the period 1922-1995, commenced its work.

In November, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary began a review of the work of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), which was established to re-examine all deaths attributed to the conflict in Northern Ireland. The review will focus on whether HET investigations into cases involving the army are compliant with human rights and policing standards.

  • In December, the Police Service of Northern Ireland confirmed that a criminal investigation into the killing of 13 civil rights marchers by British soldiers on 30 January 1972, on a day known as Bloody Sunday, would begin in 2013.
  • In December, the High Court of Northern Ireland quashed a 2011 report by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland into the killing of six men in a paramilitary attack on a bar in Loughinisland, County Down, in June 1994. A new Police Ombudsman took office in July and began reforms seeking to ensure the quality, thoroughness and independence of historical investigations into police misconduct.
  • In December, a review into the killing of solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 identified that numerous and serious levels of state collusion had occurred in the killing, but found that there was no “overarching state conspiracy”. The Prime Minister apologized to his family. The review however fell far short of being the independent, thorough and effective inquiry required and that the family had been promised.

Violence against women and girls

In May, the government announced a new initiative aimed at preventing sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations, stating that it would be a key focus of the UK G8 Presidency in 2013.

In June, the UK signed the Council of Europe's Convention preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

In November, new laws in England and Wales were introduced to tackle stalking, making such behaviour a criminal offence in a bid to improve people's safety.