The Committee draws to the special attention of both
Houses the Government's Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.
The Explanatory Notes on its very significant human rights implications
were largely helpful, but the Government's response to the Committee's
questions was late and we were unable to report in time for Report
stage in the House of Commons. There was little opportunity at
Report stage in the Commons for scrutiny, especially of Government
amendments carrying serious implications for rights and liberties.
This report will inform debate on the Second Reading in the
House of Lords and the Committee suggests some amendments to give
effect to its recommendations (paragraphs 1.1-1.4 and Annex).
It is not always clear if the Government's justification
for measures in this Bill is that public safety really is being
prejudiced or that public perception needs reassurance. The Committee
urges caution (paragraphs 1.5-1.7).
The Committee welcomes in principle the introduction
of Youth Rehabilitation Orders, a new community sentence for juvenile
offenders. But it expresses concerns on human rights grounds
about the legal framework (paragraphs 1.8-1.28).
The Committee has two concerns about proposals relating
to criminal appeals: it questions the necessity for restricting
the powers of the Court of Appeal to allow an appeal against a
conviction and the apparent restriction on the ability of the
Court of Appeal to review the safety of convictions. In addition,
the Committee recommends that the Bill be amended to allow expressly
for the re-opening of criminal proceedings in appropriate cases
following a finding by the European Court of Human Rights that
there has been a breach of the right to a fair trial (paragraphs
The Committee is concerned that the new Commissioner
for Offender Management and Prisons will not be truly independent
and recommends amendments (paragraphs 1.36-1.40).
The Committee does not accept that there is any rational
connection between limits on compensation for miscarriages of
justice and limits on compensation for victims of crime: it recommends
that the cap on the amount of compensation for miscarriages of
justice be deleted from the Bill (paragraphs 1.41-1.44).
The Committee is concerned by the vagueness of the
definition of the new offence of possession of extreme pornographic
images (paragraphs 1.45 -1.51).
The Committee welcomes the motivation behind the
Bill's provisions on prostitution but is concerned that these
measures may in fact lead to the detention of women for up to
72 hours for failing to attend a meeting, and may eventually lead
to their imprisonment for failure to comply with the terms of
court orders (paragraphs 1.52-1.55).
The Committee welcomes the proposed abolition of
the offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel (paragraphs 1.56-1.60).
The Committee welcomes the creation of the new offence
of stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation and
considers it sufficiently narrowly defined to allow appropriate
protection of freedom of speech (paragraphs 1.61-1.65).
The Committee welcomes as a clarification of the
existing law the new clause on self-defence and the use of force
to prevent crime. But it will take up with the Minister human
rights concerns arising from the inclusion of "honest belief"
as part of the defence (paragraphs 1.66-1.73).
As with, for example, Control Orders, provisions
to create new Violent Offender Orders (VOOs) raise human rights
concerns over legal certainty, due process and fairness. The
Committee expresses reservations and recommends changes (paragraphs
Provisions dealing with Anti-Social Behaviour include
new Premises Closure Orders (PCOs) and a new offence of causing
nuisance or disturbance on NHS premises. In the Committee's view
they both raise human rights concerns. It recommends changes,
in particular to ensure that PCOs are proportionate to interferences
with Convention rights and to clarify the circumstances in which
the new offence will not apply (paragraphs 1.103- 1.122).
On special immigration status, the Committee welcomes
the Government's clarification that the Secretary of State's designation
of a person under clause 181 would be unlawful if, in the opinion
of a court, the effect of designation would breach the UK's obligations
under the Refugee Convention but again raises concerns about the
statutory construction of the Convention (paragraphs 1.123 to
Provisions brought forward as late Government amendments
to prohibit industrial action by prison officers raise questions
which the Committee plans to pursue with the Minister (paragraphs
The Committee considers that the Government's Pensions
Bill does not raise human rights issues of sufficient significance
to warrant further scrutiny (paragraph 2.1).