2nd November 2018
This week, the Justice Beat focuses on blasphemous speech, female prisoners and accusations that British intelligence hacked Belgian telecoms.
1. The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office considers British intelligence as the main actor in the hacking of telecommunications company Belgacom, the Brussels Times reports. The Belgian government and security services were kept in the dark about the hack, which the prosecutor described as “exceptional” and “something that could lead to a diplomatic incident”.
2. Religious rights and free speech clash as Ireland votes to remove blasphemy as an offence from the country’s constitution, the Independent reports. Attention was drawn to the issue after Stephen Fry made comments on the RTE programme The Meaning of Life describing God as “capricious, mean-minded and stupid”.
3. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s supreme court has overturned a death sentence for blasphemy imposed on a Christian woman, the BBC reports. Asia Bibi was accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad. After spending eight years in solitary confinement on death row, the acquittal means Asia Bibi can walk free.
4. Short term prison sentences for women should be abolished according to a group of MPs, writes the Huffington Post. Supporters of the proposal claim that magistrates too often view custody as the only option whereas community centres can better support women and reduce reoffending.
5. There were over 8,000 incidents of self-harm among female prisoners in 2017 and 37 women have died by suicide in prison since 2007. The family of Katie Allan, who took her own life in a young offender institution, is raising funds on CrowdJustice to call for reform of mental health provision in prisons.
6. Lawyers for a People's Vote, a group backed by Helena Kennedy QC and Dominic Grieve MP, is calling for lawyers to sign their open letter to Theresa May calling for a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal.
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This week on CrowdJustice, the families of five men killed when a wall collapsed on them at work are raising funds for legal representation at an inquest into their deaths and people who attend Fairway Day Centre in Birmingham are crowdfunding to challenge the proposed closure of the centre.
The family of Jourdain John-Baptiste, who died following a fall from her fourth floor flat, have been granted permission to challenge the Crown Prosecution Service decision not to prosecute a key suspect in her death. They were represented by Harriet Wistrich, Director of the Centre for Women’s Justice, and Karon Monaghan QC, barrister at Matrix Chambers.
Image credit: Defence Images / Flickr