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Is this man now more or less likely to commit crime in the future?

Posted by on Aug 19, 2011 in Access To Justice, Attacks On Our Democracy, Civil Liberties | 0 comments

Justice is being done! The heartless youths who have lately been decimating the moral values of this country are being meted out suitably punitive sentences. That’ll learn ’em. And, while we’re at it, it’ll act as a deterrent to any other ne’er-do-wells who might be considering stepping out of line. That’s how justice works, right? Discipline and punish, and before long they’ll all be straightening up and flying right. Except that it doesn’t seem to...

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Harsh sentences for rioters are sleight of hand

Posted by on Aug 18, 2011 in Access To Justice, Attacks On Our Democracy, Civil Liberties | 0 comments

Vera Baird writes in today’s Guardian that apparent government intervention in the sentencing of those convicted of offences relating to the recent riots is “a sinister attempt to upend the judicial process“. We agree with her. The whole purpose of separation of powers is to prevent the politicisation of justice. If we forget that, we’re paving the way for a creeping authoritarianism that uses each expression of frustration and outrage it provokes to invade our lives more...

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Hands off our … umm, social networks.

Posted by on Aug 16, 2011 in Attacks On Our Democracy, Internet Freedom, Surveillance State | 0 comments

When the proverbial faeces hits the fan, it’s generally a good idea to spend some time figuring out what we might want to do differently in future. Coming together to clean it up is a good start, and says more about the ‘moral character’ of this country than any denunciation of it by our sort-of-elected leaders. In the longer term, however, we’re apt to want to find out who’s flinging it, and stop them, rather than simply mobilising time and again with brooms and...

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Riots are an argument for more civil liberties, not fewer

Posted by on Aug 12, 2011 in Attacks On Our Democracy, Blog, CCTV, Civil Liberties, Internet Freedom, Surveillance State | 0 comments

And so the post-mortem has begun. Now that the initial wave of rioting and looting appears to have subsided, the question of what can be done to prevent a repetition comes to the lips. David Cameron has come up with the, in our eyes rather feeble-minded, idea of restricting the use of social networks during riots. In other quarters, there are numerous rumblings about rescinding police budget cuts that could take 1,800 officers off the streets of London. Our concern is that the rioting, deplorable...

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Does it take violence to get noticed?

Posted by on Aug 9, 2011 in Access To Justice, Attacks On Our Democracy, Civil Liberties | 0 comments

Let’s start this post by making it absolutely clear that we’re in no way condoning the behaviour of people who have taken it upon themselves to take to the streets of London and go on the rampage. The story of a young boy, bloodied and confused from being caught up in the mess, having his backpack sliced open and his lunchbox stolen, is no political statement. It’s a tragic indictment of a society that is failing repeatedly to protect the innocence of its young people, and to...

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Tottenham Riots: cause and effect

Posted by on Aug 8, 2011 in Access To Justice, Attacks On Our Democracy, Civil Liberties | 0 comments

It’s easy to dismiss rioters and looters in Tottenham as ‘feral youth’, and indeed it’s possible that some were motivated by little more than opportunism. On the other hand, it’s equally possible to justify criminal damage and intimidating behaviour as a result of police brutality, and the wider context of a government that preaches austerity for all while pushing the vast majority of that austerity towards those least able to bear it. The truth, we think, lies...

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Mubarak on trial

Posted by on Aug 4, 2011 in Arab Spring, Middle East, Worldwide Conflict | 0 comments

So, after considerable doubt that he would in fact make it to the courtroom, Hosni Mubarak, former President/dictator of Egypt, stands accused of corruption and of the unlawful killing of protestors. If convicted, he faces the death penalty. It’s a situation that could unite Egyptians or tear the country apart, could be seen as justice done, or an eye for an eye. Anthony Shadid, in the New York Times, writes that it could also complicate efforts to resolve the situations in Libya, Syria,...

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We have met the enemy and he is us

Posted by on Jul 26, 2011 in Europe, Worldwide Conflict | 0 comments

Walt Kelly famously coined the phrase ‘we have met the enemy and he is us’ in a Pogo comic strip in the 1950s. The phrase takes on a macabre prescience this week in the wake of the horrific attacks carried out in Norway. Islamophobia has driven great swatches of both domestic and foreign policy in the UK over the past several years; now we’re faced with the bitter irony of a terrorist attack seemingly masterminded by a blonde, blue-eyed, square-jawed aryan who somehow believed...

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Hackgate: cause or symptom?

Posted by on Jul 20, 2011 in Attacks On Our Democracy, Civil Liberties, Freedom Of Information | 0 comments

There’s been a lot of talk over the past few days about whether Murdoch’s media empire is soon to crumble, and about the illegitimate activities supposedly carried out by employees of News International. We’re no fans of Murdoch’s approach to journalism, and we won’t be shedding any tears if his reign of influence over public and political opinion is beginning to wane. This piece in the Irish Times has us thinking about the climate of civil liberties violations in...

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News International: what does it mean for civil society?

Posted by on Jul 18, 2011 in Attacks On Our Democracy, Civil Liberties, Freedom Of Information | 0 comments

We’ve kept fairly quiet about the astonishing sequence of event that has unfolded over the past couple of weeks, preferring to take stock and seek to make sense of them on a broader scale. There has, of course, been an immediate seismic impact: the closure of the News of the World, the halting (for now, at least), of Murdoch’s efforts to take full control of BSkyB, and now his investigation by the FBI. What’s less clear, as yet, is the degree to which Murdoch’s fall from...

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