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5 Posts By kanta

  • Induction at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law

    Induction at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law

    A delegation from Coventry University visit their Partner Institution at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law (SWUPL) to welcome the 2016 cohort into the new academic year. This was a monumental year for the CU-SWUPL team at is sees the student number reach full capacity of 300 students in Chongqing, China which has been three years in the making. This programme is the only Sino-Joint law programme in Southwest China. Flying Faculty members from the CU Law School deliver modules in Chongqing under the unique 4-2-4 approach designed by the Law School (4 weeks of independent study by students; 2 weeks of intensive teaching; 4 weeks of self-led revision). These Flying Faculty modules are run in years 2 and 3 of the SWUPL programme with the intention of students becoming full-time CU students on the Coventry campus in year 4 of their studies. Upon successful completion, students will obtain a Law degree from both SWUPL and CU.

    A new cohort students were visited by CU staff members including Dr Donald Finlay (Associate Dean, International), Zhi Finlay (Head of East Asia Strategic Relationships, APU) and Jennifer Trapp (Faculty Internationalisation Manager, FBL). CU-SWUPL based staff and CU visiting staff gave talks to the new 2016 students as well as the 2015 and 2014 cohorts.

    This visit also coincided with the announcement that the CU-SWUPL programme has been shortlisted as a finalist for the British Business Awards under the category of ‘Education Institutional Partnership of the Year’ sponsored by The British Council. FBL is incredibly proud of the work that has been done by all staff members involved in the SWUPL-CU venture. We will know the outcome of the British Business awards by the 3rd November 2016 and we hope to continue building on our fantastic relationship with the SWUPL team in Chongqing.

    Induction at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law pic1 Induction at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law pic3Induction at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law pic2








  • The Coventry Legal Cinematic Review 2016

    The Coventry Law School

    The Coventry Law Student Society


    The Global Leadership Programme


    The Coventry Legal Cinematic Review 2016

     Inaugural Feature Performances By 

    Prof. Benjamin Zephaniah

    Professor Benjamin Zephaniah (16 Honorary Doctorates)

    Chair, Poetry & Creative Writing, Brunel University

    Mr David Neita

     Mr. David Neita

    Barrister/Performance Poet


    “Transitional Law & Restorative Justice in Film: Internationalising legal education as praxis”

     CLCR Coordinator:

    Terrence Wendell Brathwaite, Sr. Lecturer in Law, Coventry Law School

    Location: ECG24          Date: 24.02.2016         Time: 18.00PM-19.30PM

     Aim: In launching the Coventry Legal Cinematic Review (CLCR), Professor Benjamin Zephaniah and Barrister/‘Poet of the People’ Dave Neita will employ both film and the oral tradition as instruments of ‘Social Change’. The film genre has long been an important aspect of primary and secondary education, but its use to enhance legal education at university level is still rare, although in the last decade a few UK law schools have attempted to integrate film and audio-visuals into legal learning. By showcasing his short documentary ‘Rong Radio’, Professor Zephaniah and Dave Neita will therefore creatively and candidly explore its socio-legal aspects, based on their professional and cross-cultural understanding of human rights legacies affecting the common wo/man today, whilst helping to move the audience beyond law as a rigid ‘black letter’, text-based discipline.
     Film: ‘Rong Radio’

     Speakers’ Bio:

     Professor Benjamin Zephaniah: Best known as the leading British performance poet, is the Chair of Creative Writing at Brunel University in West London. He has been awarded 16 honorary doctorates in recognition of his work and a wing at The Ealing Hospital in West London has been named after him. It was once said, that he was the most filmed, most photographed, and most identifiable poet in Britain. His life has a literary rags-to-riches trajectory. A Rastafarian, vegan, martial arts expert and self-described as very dyslexic, Professor Zephaniah grew up in the working class district of Handsworth, Birmingham. He published his first book of poetry at the age of 22, was voted the nation’s third favourite poet of all time (after T S Eliot and John Donne) in a BBC poll in 2009. The poll also confirmed that he was in fact the only living poet in the top ten. Professor Zephaniah is currently developing a new method of teaching creative writing to students, with an emphasis on the sound of the spoken word. What he calls his “formal education” ended at the age of 13 when he left his approved school unable to read, but he been encouraged to memorise and recite passages from the Bible in his Afro-Caribbean church community from the age of 6. He was performing in his church at 10 years old and he was a known, established poet within his local area by the time he was 15. Professor Zephaniah was jailed for petty crime as a teenager before turning his life around completely. He moved to London, resolving to become a poet who could reach white as well as black audiences, “and to fight the dead image of poetry in academia.” He has since performed on every continent on the planet, including a command performance for President Nelson Mandela. And as a musician Professor Zephaniah was also the first person to record with the Wailers after the death of Bob Marley.
    David Neita: A prolific London-based lawyer, performance poet and respected international speaker on education, mental health and the arts. A barrister by training and a performance artist through practice, Dave is known as ‘The People’s Poet and Lawyer’. David’s work marries advocacy skills with theatricality to empower and motivate young or marginalised people of all ages and from all walks of life.
    Early in his career, David was a member of the legal team that achieved one of the largest settlements in a class action suit. It was brought against a multi-national mining company on behalf of black miners in South Africa, and set the tone for his future work. Today, as a Masters in Cultural Studies and motivational speaker, Dave is an inspirational thought leader, writer and accomplished practitioner as well as author of two volumes of poetry and three CDs: ‘City Life’, ‘PURE’ and ‘THE LIE’


     Programme of Events


    Time Description
    18:00 WelcomeDr Steve Foster, Head, Coventry Law School


    18:03 Dr. Jean Bernard-Adrey, Director, Centre for Global Engagement(Global Leadership Programme)


    Mr. Terrence Wendell Brathwaite, Coordinator, CLCR/Sr. Lecturer in Law,

    Coventry Law School

    Introduction of Law Students’ Society Ambassadors/Film.


    18:10 Film: ‘Rong Radio’
    18:15 Introduce Professor Benjamin Zephaniah & Dave Neita:Interactive Interview/Presentations
    19:00 Q&A(Mr Dave Neita invites/facilitates audience participation)


    19:30 Closing Remarks/Vote of thanks:Mohammed Wurie, President of Coventry Law Students’ Society


    19:35 End

    Last night I attended a fantastic event organised by Terry Braithwaite and the Global Leaders Programme – the lecture theatre was full and we were treated to something quite special – a film (the ‘rong radio station’ – catch it on youtube – followed by an interview conducted between 2 leading and famous poets who discussed their lives and the link between their work and law and justice – Mohamed also attended on behalf of the student law society and we presented certificates to their officers – they were all a real credit to us, as were all the students who attended and asked questions.

  • Gough v United Kingdom

    Indecent, it’s bloody obscene!




    Human rights my arse!




    Drop your trousers and Gough


    This short story is based on the recent European Court decision in Gough v United Kingdom where it was held that the prosecution and imprisonment of Gough for indecency for repeatedly walking naked in public was a necessary and proportionate interference with his right to freedom of expression under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The characters are entirely fictional, apart from Gough himself; the scenario is also entirely fictional.



    ‘‘Elaine? Is that you? It’s Betty; I’m on me mobile phone. ‘‘Are you there? Yes? Oh, right. Well he’s arrived, that bloke on the news this morning – they said he’d be in Coventry today. You know, that bloke on the news, the one who walks about with all his clothes off. He was on the news – this morning. ‘’


    ‘You remember now? Blimey, Elaine, keep up. Well he’s here in town, walking down Gas Street, just wearing his rucksack and nothing else. Well apart from a bobble hat and some sandals. Yes, a bobble hat! Well it hasn’t got a bobble on it so I suppose it’s just a hat, isn’t it? What colour’s the rucksack? Well that’s a right bloody silly question to ask isn’t it? The man is naked Elaine! Naked in Gas Street! And on a Tuesday as well!’’


    ‘‘Hang on, there’s a crowd now. I can’t see anything. Well would you believe it? That Charmaine Harris is there, right in the thick of things. Thought she’d be there, bloody shameless she is! Anywhere there’s naked man on the loose, you’re sure to find her. You know she’s had affairs with two of our vicars, don’t you? Yes two – old droopy drawers Jones who died, and the young chap who came last year and left suddenly. It’s true, my Bill caught her giving him a wotsit in the bowls pavilion.’’


    ‘Wait on, he’s escaped Charmaine Harris and is running towards Greggs. Blimey, that’s not a pretty sight. He needs some pants on, he does. Hang on, he’s stood on the council steps and waving his arms about, blimey everything’s flapping now …Is he what? No not really, but it is cold! That’s always the case, isn’t it? Those who go about without no clothes on are the ones you wouldn’t want to see in the nuddy. Like that chap on holiday last year, remember, the one who was naked on the beach, then came into the tea rooms with it all dangling? Well, as you said, he was no Leonard Caprio, was he? No, this one is nothing to write home about I’m afraid. Not that you would write home about that sort of thing, would you?’’


    ‘‘Hang on, Jackie James from the Herald has arrived. From the Herald yes, delivered on a Thursday. No, I haven’t had mine for weeks; they seemed to have stopped delivering it now; although old Mister Brown says that the students take it from the letter boxes and use it as wotsit paper.’’


    ‘’Young Jackie is interviewing the naked bloke now, thrusting his microphone into him. He ought to be careful. He doesn’t look very comfortable, does Jackie, well you wouldn’t would you? Having to stare at that when you’re trying to ask questions.’’


    ‘‘Hang on, the cameras have just rolled up now – here, it’s that bloke from the BBC news, the one with the eyes. No not the nice Welsh one, no not him, he wouldn’t come here just to see naked men, would he? He goes to royal weddings and does the important stuff; he knows the Queen, you know. Imagine if he was asked to come to Coventry and interview a man wearing just a rucksack and sandles?’’


    ‘‘Hang on the police has arrived now…’’





    On the bed that he has slept in for the last forty years, lays the dead body of a man: a man married for 55 years, retired for ten; a man who believes he has achieved nothing in life, who has not really loved or been loved; a man made ill and eventually killed by the shame brought upon him by a son who had no respect for his father, decency, morality or society. He is now at peace and soon will be forgotten by everyone, whilst his son will become famous, and infamous, for the awful things that he has done, and which are now out there in the public. He will be talked about on the news, in the streets and by academics, who will examine his behaviour and publish papers on it; and everyone will question why he did this thing, and why he brought shame on his family, and whether it was really the father, the mother and society that was to blame.





    ‘‘Oh, bloody hell! This puts the tin hat on it, this does. That bloody lecturer from the college has arrived and they’re interviewing him. You know the one, works at the college, always on the radio talking about human rights. Human rights my arse is what I say. Yes, Molly Forster’s lad, well lad, he must be sixty now. Yes, that’s him, well he’s talking a lot of old shite now, to the telly man.’’


    ‘‘… I appreciate that Mr Gough’s appearance may well be causing some distress to some, but in a democratic society imbued with broadmindedness and pluralism, surely it is an affront to liberalism and tolerance that his alternative life style choice is restricted by arrest and imprisonment. Surely, in such a society…’


    ‘‘What a lot of cobblers! He needs a good slap that one. Bill the butcher was telling me that his granddaughter goes to his classes and that he’s always talking about gay rights. Well, that’s not right is it? Here, you don’t think he’s a wotsit, do you? Oh, did he? That bloody woman gets everywhere! Well there’s something wrong with him. She says he’s always banging on about transvestites, prisoners and torture; and his Mum was a lovely woman she was. He was on the radio the other day saying prisoners should be able to vote! Yes, vote! What a bloody liberty. I agree with that nice Mister Cameron. He says that if prisoners are allowed to vote that would make him sick. Well, he’s right isn’t he? No bloody sense in it.’’


    ‘‘Oh, hell, now it’s all starting to kick off. Two policemen are trying to cover him up with their helmets, and he’s knocking them away and running round by Baz’s video shop.’’


    ‘’Hang on a minute Elaine, ‘three pounds of potatoes a cucumber and some Pink ladies, please’. What? Yes, I’m in the greengrocers, getting some bits and pieces for tea. Yes, I’m looking out the widow, although Big Gloria from South Street is in the way, can’t see nothing now.’’ Ooo, there he is again and he’s just tripped over Baz’s dog… blimey I bet that hurt!’’


    ‘’Well, better be going. Oh, nearly forgot, Bill died last night. Sudden like. Bill who? My Bill of course, which other bloody Bill is there? Get a grip Elaine! Well I’m sorry as well, but there you go, he was seventy three you know. Yes, seventy three, he was. No he wasn’t seventy five Elaine, be told! Look Elaine, I should bloody know, he was my husband, he was seventy blinking three. Anyway, I’m off now, got things to arrange, see you at bingo Saturday. Oh, the police have just carted him off – no not my Bill, the bloody naked man. I expect he will be glad to get into the warm.’’


    … this sort of liberty would be in jeopardy if the current government pursues its plans to repeal the Human Rights Act and leave the European Convention on Human Rights.’’


    ‘‘Thank you Doctor Forster. This is Jonathon Morris, BBC news, Coventry.’’


    ‘‘Hello, Mrs Hutton, it’s Stan Forster, Molly’s son. How are you, and how is Mister Hutton?




    ‘Oh, I am sorry.’ My condolences Mrs Hutton.’’


    ‘Well, you should be…it’s people like you, with your bloody human rights. Not everyone deserves human rights you know. Some people have done things, bad things, bad things to other people … they don’t deserve to be treated like human beings. They’re animals.


    ‘‘And him over there, with all his tackle open to the elements. It’s bloody indecent, that’s what it is. What if I decided to take my clothes off and walk into your lectures, all naked, you wouldn’t like that would you?’’


    ‘‘No. I don’t suppose I would Mrs Hutton, but …’’


    ‘‘But nothing, you wouldn’t like it because it is not very nice to be walking about naked in a public place, with all your bits and pieces on display. There’s no bloody standards these days. No one is safe.’’


    ‘’I see Mrs Hutton. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, freedom of expression and all that. Even if it does cause offence.’’


    ‘Yes, I suppose you are right, I am entitled to that aren’t I?’’


    ‘’Well goodbye Mrs Hutton


    ‘’Yes, goodbye… you arsehole’’


    ‘Mrs Hutton is it? Jonathon Morris from the BBC. I wonder whether you could spare us a few moments to give us another perspective about this case?’’


    ‘’What, me on the telly? Oh, go on then.’’


    Doctor Foster closed his eyes and muttered darkly. ‘Bloody free speech!’






  • Prisoner Voting rights and the ECJ


    Thierry Devigne v Commune de Lesparrre-Medoc and Prefet de la Gironde Case C650/1 (Court of Justice of the European Union 6 October 2015)


    The battle for prisoners’ voting rights in the UK has been active now for nearly 15 years. Following the domestic courts’ refusal to declare s.3 of the Representation of the Peoples Act 1983 as incompatible with the right to vote under Article 3 of the First Protocol to the European Convention, the European Court of Human Rights, and then the Grand Chamber of the European Court confirmed that the ‘blanket’ ban on convicted prisoners voting in national and European elections was in violation of the ‘right to vote’ under article 3 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights (1950): Hirst v United Kingdom (No. 2) (2006 42 EHRR 41). Despite that finding, and subsequent findings of the European Court, which confirm that the UK continue to breach its Convention obligations in this area, prisoners are still left without a remedy because the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe are powerless to change the relevant law, and must wait for the government to initiate legislation which will comply with the rulings.

    However, a recent decision of the European Court of Justice has accepted that the deprivation of the right to vote as a prisoner represents a limitation of the exercise of the right of EU citizens to vote in elections to the European Parliament. This means that UK law must comply with relevant EU law as far as European elections are concerned, and that if it is in conflict, including any ruling of the ECJ, then EU law will automatically apply and will prevail, irrespective of the government’s strict legal power to ignore the rulings and directions of the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe.

    The decision does not clear up all of issues surrounding the UK law in this area, as the decision was made with respect to a ban in another country, which is different than the one operating in the UK. Nevertheless, it gives some renewed hope to disenfranchised prisoners that the current ban may be inconsistent with right under EU law.


    Facts and decision in Thierry Devigne v Commune de Lesparrre-Medoc and Prefet de la Gironde

    In 1998 Devigne was convicted by the French courts of a serious criminal offence. Under the law at that time those convicted of such a crime were automatically and permanently deprived of their civic rights: the right to vote and stand for election. In 1994 the law was changed and under the Criminal Code the ban ceased to be automatic and had to be imposed by a court for a period not exceeding 10 years. As the new rule does not apply to convictions delivered before the new Code entered into force, Devigne remains banned under the previous law. He challenged the ban and the tribunal d’instance de Bordeaux asked the ECJ whether, taking into account the right of EU citizens to vote in elections to the European Parliament, a Member State can make provision for a general, indefinite and automatic ban on the exercise of civil and political rights.

    The ECJ first held that the deprivation of the right to vote to which Devigne was subject represented a limitation of the exercise of the right of EU citizens to vote in elections to the European Parliament, as guaranteed under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. However, the ECJ held that limitations to that right may be imposed on the exercise of such fundamental rights provided they are proportionate. On this issue, the ECJ ruled that the ban in question was proportionate in so far as it took into account the nature and gravity of the criminal offence committed and the duration of the penalty. The ban in question applied (at the time) only to persons convicted of a criminal offence punishable by at least 5 years’ imprisonment, and in any case allows the prisoner to apply for and obtain reinstatement of the civic rights which they have lost under the law. Accordingly, the ECJ felt that it is, under EU law, possible to maintain a ban which precludes persons convicted of a serious crime from voting in elections to the European Parliament.

    The ECJ also found that the decision of the Court was not called into question by the rule of retroactive effect of a more lenient criminal law, under which any lighter penalty provided by law after the commission of a criminal offence must be applied. In the ECJ’s view, reform of the Criminal Code does not affect Delvigne’s position, since he had already been finally convicted before the reform came into force.



    Despite the ECJ’s acceptance that EU law applies to this area with respect to elections to the European Parliament, it is questionable whether the decision resolves the question whether UK law is compatible with the European Convention and the EU Charter.

    At the very least the ECJ recognise that EU law and rights are engaged, in comparison with the domestic courts who felt that it had little impact. Thus in Chester and McGeough (2013), the Supreme Court held that even if EU law had recognised a right to vote, it would not have gone further than Strasbourg jurisprudence as the ECJ very rarely declined to follow that case law. The only relief that the domestic courts could consider would be to declare relevant legislation inconsistent with EU law; it could not simply disapply the legal prohibition on prisoner voting. Nor, in the Court’s view, could the courts read the provisions compatibly with EU law: the legislation was clear, and it would contradict the UK’s intention in enacting it to allow some prisoners to vote under unspecified conditions; the Supreme Court could not devise an alternative scheme to Parliament.

    Now that it is accepted that EU rights might be engaged, with respect to legality, looking at the tenor of the recent judgment it would appear that any restriction on disenfranchisement needs to be proportionate taking into account the nature and gravity of the offence and the duration of the penalty. Taking that into account the ECJ were satisfied that the French law (at the time of Delvigne’s conviction, and certainly after the reform of the Code) was proportionate because it only applied to serious criminal offences (in this case those involving at least 5 years’ imprisonment). This reflects the quite broad margin of appreciation given to states by the European Court of Human Rights in this area. Thus in Scoppola v Italy, the Grand Chamber not only hinted that each state had a broad discretion to determine the rules on prisoner disenfranchisement, but also held that judicial involvement in the decision to ban prisoners from voting was not necessary. The ECJ’s ruling displays a similar reluctance to interfere where the domestic law only applies to certain and serious crimes.


    The insistence that the law takes into account the gravity and nature of the ban would appear to leave the ban imposed on UK prisoners as still incompatible with both the European Convention and the recent decision of the ECJ. This is because of the blanket nature of the ban, which in Firth v United Kingdom the European Court recently confirmed as incompatible with article 1 of the first protocol; the ban not taking into consideration the nature and seriousness of the offence. In Firth the Court recognised that despite the recent steps taken in the United Kingdom with the publication of a draft bill and the report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee appointed to examine the bill, that the legislation remained unamended.


    However, one dissenting judge in Firth – Judge Wojtycek – believed that the decision in Scoppola affords governments a much wider discretion, and one which could clearly cover the present UK law. In his view the law in the UK does not amount to a blanket ban, because it only applies to those in detention, as opposed to other jurisdictions which allow the ban to continue beyond incarceration. Accordingly the judge called for a review by the Grand Chamber of the situation regarding prisoner voting rights. If this is true, then it is possible for the government to argue, – both before the European Court of Human Rights and the ECJ – that the ban is indeed proportionate given that it only applies during the prisoner’s incarceration and that, unlike other jurisdictions, prisoners resume their civic rights on release.

    It is clear from the recent ECJ case that proportionality is at the heart of the legality and compatibility of any ban, and the wording of the ECJ’s judgment appears to reflect, no more and no less, the standards already laid down by the Strasbourg Court. Those standards are, however, flexible and changing: both Courts have suggested that there will be some margin left to the state, but it is unclear at what point either Court would regard the ban as disproportionate. More specifically, it is not certain whether the ECJ would accept a ban such as the UK, which is blanket in one sense (it applies to all incarcerated prisoners), but perhaps, not in another (in the sense that it does not apply beyond incarceration) It is suggested that the present UK ban is blanket and disproportionate: at best a lazy solution to the question of whether prisoners should be able to vote; at worst an illogical and disproportionate interference with a fundamental democratic right.