Tag Archives: law

Alex Cole-Hamilton has called for age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, a former youth charity worker, has called for the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to be raised to 14. The UN suggests that 12 should be an absolute minimum baseline. On both sides of the border, we fall short of this. In England and Wales, it’s 10 and in Scotland just 8.

The Scottish Government is putting forward legislation to raise it in line with the UN minimum guidelines, but Alex says that it doesn’t go far enough:

Scotland is the only country in the EU where children as young as eight can find themselves

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Tom Brake MP writes…Violation of judicial process by Bangladesh International Criminal Tribunal

This week the Bangladesh Supreme Court upheld the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) decision to execute Salauddin Quader Chowdhury. This represents the second rejection for Mr Chowdhury, following his original appeal in July 2015. This is a grave injustice for Chowdhury and for Bangladesh.

In 2013, Chowdhury was sentenced to death by the ICT for war crimes allegedly committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Independence War. The original trial, like many others heard by the ICT, has received widespread criticism including from the United Nations and Amnesty International for procedural irregularities and the violation of international fair trial standards.

The case of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury was marred by irregularities, the worst of which relates to witnesses for the Defence. The Court imposed a last minute restriction to the number of witnesses the Defence was permitted to call. The Prosecution called 41 witnesses to take the stand against Chowdhury. On the day the final Prosecution witness was called, the Court branded the 1153-long witness list a ploy aimed at delaying the case and arbitrarily cut the Defence witness list to just five.

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Rape anonymity for the accused: well-intentioned but wrong

Nigel EvansRape anonymity — the right of the accused in rape cases to have their identity kept secret — is in the news again today, after Conservative MP and deputy speaker Nigel Evans was named publicly following his arrest on suspicion of rape and sexual assault.

The Coalition Agreement said the Government would ‘extend anonymity in rape cases to defendants’. Though the pledge hadn’t been included in either party’s manifestos, it was Lib Dem policy, agreed at the 2006 party conference. The Lib Dems’ then home office minister Lynne Featherstone …

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Opinion: Rights for cohabiting couples

The progress of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill through Parliament, with its Second Reading in the House of Commons, should be a cause of celebration amongst Liberal Democrats. As a party we have been, on the whole, united behind these proposals and we should applaud the leadership that Nick Clegg, Lynne Featherstone and, let’s give credit where it is due, David Cameron have demonstrated on this particular issue.

Working in Coalition, Liberal Democrats have introduced legislation which will secure equal marriage in law. I doubt very much whether a single party government, whether Conservative or Labour led, would have dared …

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Opinion: The future of Indeterminate Sentences – and why liberals should support them

The number of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences has rocketed since the 2003 Criminal Justice Act introduced the IPP (Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection). Within four years of its introduction, over 5,000 such sentences had been passed despite original government projections of just a few hundred.

To the horror of many liberals less than 2% of such prisoners have ever acheived parole and hardly any gained release at expiry of their sentence tariff. Most MPs will be familar with cases of constituents where IPP prisoners have served well in excess of their tariff and yet appear to have little prospect of release.

As a result many liberals will applaud the government announcement this week that the IPP sentence is to be replaced by a regime of Determinate Sentences and a “two strike” automatic life sentence reserved for the most serious offences.

At first sight this appears to be a victory for justice and a step towards reducing prison numbers. But the reality is less straightforward, and although the IPP has flaws these can be reformed — and if the sentence is made fit for purpose it has many advantages over the proposed reforms.

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Was Lib Dem MP John Hemming right to name Ryan Giggs as superinjunction footballer?

The media can now, openly and legitimately, report the name of the Premiership footballer alleged to have had an affair with a former reality show contestant. That the name ‘Ryan Giggs’ is public is down to Lib Dem MP John Hemming, who ‘outed’ the Manchester United star in the House of Commons this afternoon using Parliamentary privilege. As BBC News reports:

Addressing MPs, Mr Hemming said: “Mr Speaker, with about 75,000 people having named Ryan Giggs it is obviously impracticable to imprison them all.”

House of Commons speaker John Bercow interrupted the MP saying: “Let me just say to the honourable

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