The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has published its final recommendations on Criminal Justice. One is of particular interest: the section entitled Failure to report offence recommends “the introduction of a new criminal offence of failure to report targeted at child sexual abuse in an institutional context (recommendation 33)”. In particular, it proposes that clergy should no longer be permitted to refuse to disclose offending on the grounds that they came by the information in the course of a confession:
Blasphemy in Ireland, flying spaghetti in Germany, silly hats in Canada – just a typical week…
Ireland’s blasphemy laws “least restrictive in the world”? Possibly, but…
“many countries in Western Europe, including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, and Italy, retain legislation on blasphemy, defamation of religion, or ‘anti-religious remarks’, though these laws are seldom enforced. In one promising development, Ireland’s coalition government announced in May 2016 its intention to hold a referendum on the removal of its blasphemy law” .
The Beneficent Spiritist Center União do Vegetal is a religion with Christian and reincarnationist foundations; its declared objective to contribute to the spiritual development of the human being and the improvement of his or her intellectual qualities and moral virtues, without distinction of race, sex, creed, social class or nationality. In its rituals it uses hoasca tea (also known as ayahuasca). Continue reading
A busy week, dominated by the tragic case of Charlie Gard.
We have been following the recent Charlie Gard case, but we refrained from reporting on day-to-day developments in the case because we felt that the issues involved were beyond our remit and the medical aspects were well outside our specific expertise. In his judgment in Great Ormond Street Hospital v Gard  EWHC 1909 (Fam) Mr Justice Francis commented:
“A lot of things have been said, particularly in recent days, by those who know almost nothing about this case but who feel entitled to express opinions. Many opinions have been expressed based on feelings rather than facts” .
“The world of social media doubtless has very many benefits but one of its pitfalls, I suggest, is that when cases such as this go viral, the watching world feels entitled to express opinions, whether or not they are evidence-based” . Continue reading
The week’s news seems to underline the wisdom of the injunction in the Persil advert: Always Keep Away From Children…
The Supreme Court
First, though, the big news of the week: Baroness Hale of Richmond will succeed Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury as President of the UK Supreme Court on 2 October. Lady Justice Black, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Lord Justice Briggs will all join the Supreme Court as Justices on the same day.
Sexual orientation and “British Values”
An Orthodox Jewish school in Hackney has failed its third Ofsted inspection because it did not teach its pupils about sexual orientation. The inspectors reported that the pupils at Vishnitz Girls School, who range in age from three to eight,
“are not taught explicitly about issues such as sexual orientation. This restricts pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and does not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles. As a result, pupils are not able to gain a full understanding of fundamental British values.” Continue reading
In a unanimous judgment, the European Court of Human Rights has confirmed that hate-speech is not protected by the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 ECHR.
In Belkacem v Belgium  ECHR No 34367/14 [in French], the applicant had been convicted of various infractions of Article 22 of the Law of 10 May 2007 on combating certain forms of discrimination: in particular, that he had posted videos on YouTube in which he was seen making grossly inflammatory statements about the then Minister of Defence of Belgium  and that he had harassed the husband of a Belgian politician after her death by posting a video saying that she would spend eternity in Hell . Continue reading
From Hung Parliament to Bung Parliament…
…male Members without ties, and even more bishops.
Abortion in Northern Ireland
Last week, one year on from hearing oral argument, the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal overturned the ruling at first instance by Horner J in which he held that the abortion law in Northern Ireland was incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 in circumstances where the foetus had been diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality or where the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Simultaneously, however, the BBC reported that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had announced in advance of a likely vote on the issue in the House of Commons that women from Northern Ireland would in future be able to obtain NHS terminations in England. We noted it all here. Continue reading