Quisiera eso sí llamar la atención sobre estas palabras del extenso voto particular del magistrado que, como me decía una amiga hoy, ya les ha preparado el recurso a los acusados. El Ilustrísimo Señor Don Ricardo Javier González González les habría absuelto al no encontrar en las imágenes de la joven ‘atisbo alguno de oposición, rechazo, disgusto, asco, repugnancia, negativa, incomodidad, sufrimiento, dolor, miedo, descontento, desconcierto o cualquier otro sentimiento similar’ (página 245 de la sentencia).
The socio-economic duty is contained in Equality Act 2010 s1 and requires government ministers, councils and other public authorities to have due regard to ‘the desirability of exercising [their functions] in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage’. It complements the public sector equality duty set out in s149; however, successive governments post-2010 have declined to bring it into effect.
Regardless of what you think of the UK’s relationship with the European Union, you should consider this: the EU (Withdrawal) Bill currently passing through the British parliament puts some important social rights at risk.
International treaties are legally binding for countries that voluntarily sign and ratify them. The UK and 165 other countries have done so in the case of the ICESCR. However, the UK has not yet incorporated the ICESCR into its domestic legal system. As a result of that, social rights remain relevant in the political discourse but, by and large, legally toothless.
However, people living in the UK do enjoy a number of social rights as a result of the UK’s membership of the European Union.
British laws protecting workers from discrimination and protecting their maternity leave rights, for example, come from EU directives. The European Court of Justice has developed some of these rights on equal pay for equal work and equal access to state pensions. Workers are also entitled to compensation if their EU labour rights are breached.
The UK supreme court drew on EU law when it insisted that employers have to give spouses in same-sex marriages the same pension rights as heterosexual couples. The same court also concluded that employment tribunal fees (charging people for taking action against their employers for unfair treatment) made access to justice practically impossible or excessively difficult for too many people, and that breached EU law as well. The High Court of England and Wales echoed the right to health recognised in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights when it ruled to keep plain packaging for cigarettes.
All these steps were directly or indirectly the result of the UK being an EU member state. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill puts many of these rights at risk. In its current form the bill will erase the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and all the protections that come with it. These protections will no longer apply to British citizens and other residents after Brexit day.
As the Conservative MP and former attorney general Dominic Grieve recently argued in parliament, the problem of the EU
(Withdrawal) Bill is that equality or environmental policies, for example, will no longer enjoy the legal protection that EU membership gives them. British authorities will therefore be free to lower or indeed remove the standards that currently protect British people.
In response to this problem, the former High Court judge Michael Tugendhat has advocated that UK courts should have the power to ignore an act of parliament if it is contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and EU human rights principles.
And to avoid losing equality rights, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has said that courts should be able to declare that an act of parliament is contrary to the Equality Act 2010. Such a declaration would send a message to parliament that it should consider appealing or amending the offending act – though it would not be obliged to do so and could choose to do nothing at all.
A British tradition
Social rights have been part of Britain’s tradition for centuries and Brexit should not change that. This year marks the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest, which limited landlords’ privileges, facilitated free men’s access to the common land and granted women’s rights that were revolutionary for the standards of the time. Britain is also the land of the Peasants’ Revolt of the 14th century and of the Putney Debates in 1647, the birthplace of Thomas Paine and John Stuart Mill, the stronghold of the labour movements in the 19th and 20th centuries, the country of the NHS, the home of the council house.
The UK must match these historical milestones with a categorical legal and political commitment to social rights in the 21st century.
It is not an overstatement to claim that Brexit is a constitutional juncture of unique historical relevance. As Britons look for the future they want to live in, now more than ever they must take back control of their rights. Britain should bring social rights home by incorporating international human rights law into the national legal system.
Contributors: Kath Dalmeny (Sustain), Koldo Casla (Just Fair), Elli Kontorravdis (Nourish Scotland), Peter Roderick (Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University).
In 2016, Trussell Trust, the largest UK food bank network, provided 1.2 million packages of emergency food supplies. For comparison, in 2009 they supplied 41,000 packages. This is a symptom of, for example, increasing food and house prices, insecure incomes, rising debt, benefit sanctions, and financial problems for households dealing with disability and mental health. But this is a symptom of something else: That the human right to food is far from a reality for too many people in our country.
Half of the emergency packages went to households looking after a disabled person, three-quarters to people experiencing ill-health and associated financial insecurity, a third to households experiencing problems repaying debt, and a quarter to households reporting that rising costs – such as housing – meant they had simply run out of money to buy food. The majority had been referred to the foodbank by a professional body that had identified them as being in crisis – such as a GP, social security office or Citizens’ Advice Bureau. Continue reading “Beyond hunger and the food bank: a new right to food”→
This article was first published in OpenGlobalRights (Open Democracy)
If Virginia Woolf needed a room of her own to write fiction (and much more), Paula needs a place to call home to live her life and to raise her kids. But ineffective policies are blocking her at every turn. Paula is just one of thousands of women who cannot escape the trap of insecure housing after going through an eviction in Spain.
More than 30,000 households were evicted from their rented homes last year alone, as in the previous one, and the one before. The number of households evicted from mortgaged properties does not fall far behind.
Going through an eviction is a traumatic experience for everyone, but Amnesty International has documented that women often experience it differently—and more frequently. Women are overrepresented in part-time jobs, find themselves at the lower end of the pay gap, and regularly bear domestic care duties. Single-parent families, which are predominantly headed by women (in more than eight out of ten cases), often live in rental accommodations. Official statistics show that these families also face higher than average rates of poverty, social exclusion and material deprivation.
Amnesty International interviewed 19 women and four men who either have gone through an eviction or are at risk of being evicted. At least seven of them complained that the judge had not enquired about their personal circumstances. “We did not get the chance to explain our situation to the judge,” said Ana. A female judge in Barcelona confirmed this problem, saying: “When we receive the eviction suit, we have absolutely no idea who lives there.”
Este artículo fue publicado en OpenGlobalRights (Open Democracy)
Si Virginia Woolf reclamaba una habitación propia para escribir literatura (y para mucho más), Paula reclama un lugar al que poder llamar hogar para vivir su vida y criar a sus hijos. Pero políticas ineficaces le cierran el paso. Paula no es sino una de las miles de mujeres que no pueden salir de la trampa de la vivienda insegura tras un desahucio.
Más de 30.000 familias protagonizaron un desahucio por impago del alquiler el año pasado, al igual que el anterior, y el anterior. El número de familias afectadas por desalojos de origen hipotecario no es muy inferior.
Un desahucio es una experiencia traumática para cualquiera, pero Amnistía Internacional ha documentado que las mujeres lo sufren de manera diferente, y más frecuentemente. Las mujeres están sobrerrepresentadas en los trabajos a jornada parcial, se encuentran en la parte inferior de la brecha salarial, y con frecuencia se hacen cargo de las responsabilidades de cuidado familiar. Las familias monoparentales, predominantemente encabezadas por mujeres (en más de ocho de cada diez casos), suelen vivir en pisos de alquiler. Las estadísticas oficiales muestran que las mujeres en España se enfrentan a tasas más altas de pobreza, exclusión social y privación material.
Miembros de Amnistía Internacional entrevistamos a 19 mujeres y cuatro hombres que o bien habían pasado por un desahucio o corrían el riesgo de ser desahuciadas en un futuro próximo. Al menos siete de ellas lamentaron que durante el proceso el juez no mostró interés por sus circunstancias personales. “No tuvimos ocasión de explicarle nuestra situación”, nos dijo Ana. Una jueza de Barcelona nos lo confirmó: “Cuando recibimos una demanda de desahucio, no tenemos ni la menor idea de quién está viviendo allá”. Continue reading “Derechos desahuciados en España: Sin habitación propia”→
With only five seats in a Parliament of 350 Members, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV-EAJ) is playing a crucial role in Spanish politics.
In a hung parliament, PP’s conservative government can only rely on its 134 MPs and two more that tend to be loyal. About 40 seats short, the government has to negotiate each legislative initiative with the opposition, where two parties stand out as most likely allies in tumultuous waters: the 32 MPs of the central-liberal Ciudadanos (“Citizens”) and the mentioned five from PNV-EAJ. After some political juggling, their support can be enough most of the time.
However, while Ciudadanos is comfortable with PP’s economic policies and anti-devolution Jacobinism, ideology does not explain the PNV-EAJ’s position. PNV-EAJ is closer to the social-democratic PSOE (allegedly closer than PSOE leaders towards each other), and in fact, they share power in the Basque government, in the three Basque provincial governments and in many local councils, including the three main cities.
Even Podemos (“We can”), which is supposed to be to the left of everybody else, included in its Ikea-style 2016 manifesto the expansion of the Basque welfare regime to the rest of Spain, and the recognition of the right to self-determination of the Basque Country and Catalonia, all of which suggests that there could be room for mutual understanding with them too.
But the PNV-EAJ has made a different choice. In essence, Mr Rajoy needs the moderate Basque nationalists to remain in power, and the Basque nationalists know it all too well. After weeks of negotiations, PNV-EAJ has just confirmed it will support the approval of the Spanish budget. Less than one month ago, with its abstention PP facilitated the approval of the Basque government’s budget in the Basque parliament.