The case for social and legal change for domestic work in India

By Madhulika

The coronavirus pandemic has acted to highlight and exacerbate the failures in access to justice for domestic workers in India. The spread of Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdown measures implemented by the Government of India to contain its spread has had a profound impact on work and workers. In India, women employed in paid domestic work have been amongst the most critically hit. As per the National Sample Survey Organization, there are as many as four million paid domestic workers in India, though unofficial data suggests that there might be close to 90 million.

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Why India’s Constitutional Guarantee of Anti-Discrimination is Not Enough?

By Vatsal Patel

India is perhaps the only country where the constitutional guarantee of non-discrimination is not backed by a comprehensive legislation. While Article 15(1) of the Indian Constitution posits a mandatory duty upon the State to not “discriminate against any citizens on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them” (Vertical Anti-Discrimination); Article 15(2) places a similar obligation upon Indian citizens, to not discriminate against fellow citizens, in terms of granting them access to public-spaces (Horizontal Anti-Discrimination). These articles are in addition to a discrimination-free commitment in public-employment under Article 16(2) and a broad guarantee of a right to equality under Article 14.

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Singapore High Court denies justice, again.

By Anmol Ratan

In March 2020, the High Court of Singapore by the way of its decision in the case of Ong Ming Johnson v. Attorney-General and other matters upheld the validity of its colonial sodomy law, namely the Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code yet again. This section criminalises the act of ‘gross indecency’ among two male persons by punishing them for a maximum term of 2 years. The issues raised in this case were premised on the constitutional validity and interpretation of Section 377A and its nature vis-e-vie the constitutional rights of liberty, equality and freedom of expression as envisaged under Articles 9(1), 12(1) and 14(1)(a) of the Constitution of Singapore. The judgement which was pronounced by Judge See Kee Oon justified the existence and legality of Section 377A on the arguably unfounded grounds of public morality and religious harmony. Continue reading “Singapore High Court denies justice, again.”

‘The Model Minority’: a Hinderance to the Pursuit of Justice

By Debadrita Chakraborty 

Indian immigrants fail to acknowledge their complicity in injustices both in India and America. Here’s why.

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is here to stay. Catalysed by one of the most heinous racial homicide of the 21st century, BLM protests have since snowballed into one of the greatest ‘domino’ resistance movement in the U.S. The sustained nature of the movement and its organised approach towards decolonising the Global North’s white washed history and curriculum have resonated with other minority and racially targeted communities who have expressed solidarity by not only dissenting against institutional racism and police brutalities but also reflecting on their own complicity in anti-black racism. However, one of the most visible and prominent minority group that has remained relatively apolitical in a deeply political time despite its history of colonial oppression and state sanctioned hostile policing is the Indian migrant community in America.

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Technology: Tool or Barrier to Access to Justice

By Louis Dejeu-Castang

“The introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) together with local authority funding cuts has created an adverse environment which has resulted in half of the law centres or agencies offering free legal advice being closed”[1]. This striking statistic highlights the severity of the crisis facing access to justice in the UK. It highlights a void wherein the vital legal information, that used to be supplied by law centres, is no longer reaching those that need it most. To many, access to justice is now considered a luxury as opposed to a human right. However, technology, in spite of its power to connect, has several attributes that make it seem a poor tool for rectifying this problem. Continue reading “Technology: Tool or Barrier to Access to Justice”

How casteist is the Coronavirus pandemic? 

By Anmol Ratan 

History bears testimony to the fact that unlike most of the world, India is not new to practice of social distancing. Maintaining social as well as physical distance has been historically entrenched in various form of isolation by the upper castes in the Hindu social order ever since the Vedic times[i]. Based on the religion of Hinduism and its scriptures, social distancing, which today is claimed to be the only curative measure for COVID-19, has always been used as a socially-sanctioned weapon of mass social disruption and collective discrimination against the lower castes and Dalits in the Indian subcontinent. It has been a part of India’s unjust history and continues to be a reality even in India’s fight against coronavirus.

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The Threat of Technology to Access to Justice

By Abe Chauhan

This essay was awarded third place in  UCL CAJ SPBC writing competition to answer the question: “Technology is a useful tool for furthering access to justice”

Many are heralding a new era of ‘posthuman governance’[1] in which complex social issues are ‘deconstructed into neatly defined, structured and well-scoped problems that can be solved algorithmically’.[2] However, new technologies are not neutral and egalitarian tools but human creations and their effects on access to justice depend on the way in which they are designed, deployed and operated by public authorities. Promises of a digital technocracy disguise ruthless cost-cutting measures which will likely perpetuate structural injustice and worsen access to justice. In particular, the digitisation of courts and tribunals could introduce access barriers and offend principles of natural justice (Part II) and automated decision-making (“ADM”) systems look set to outpace the development of traditional judicial review doctrines with the result that claimants’ rights may become materially unenforceable before the courts (Part III). As long as technological solutions are developed to prioritise efficiency in monetary terms, access to justice will continue to be under threat.

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Outlawing the Practice of ‘Female Genital Mutilation’ in Sudan: An advanced step towards preaching health as a Human Right

By Sahajveer Baweja

Our guest contributor is currently a 3rd-year B.A.LL.B. student at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala, India. 

Recently, Sudan has made a landmark move by amending its Criminal Code and penalising the archaic practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) making it punishable by three years of imprisonment. FGM as a practice stems from the social customs of a girl’s tribe or ethnic group and aids to define her in the context of her community. The practice of FGM is widespread in 28 African countries especially in Sudan where 87% of the Sudanese women have been its victim. Statistically, almost 100 to 140 million women in Africa have undergone the ritual of FGM in the last 50 years. Moreover, such practice of FGM has been traced in a few minority groups in Asia and Middle East Countries as well, but the chances of occurrence there are less and very limited because of strong penal provisions.

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Clash of the Titans: Students v Academics Fundraising Debate for Kalayaan

By Isabel de Leon

On the 21st of January 2020, the Centre for Access to Justice Student Pro Bono Committee held its first Academics vs Students Debate Fundraiser. This event was organised in support of Kalayaan, a small London-based charity that works to provide practical advice and support to, as well as campaigns with and for, the rights of migrant domestic workers in the UK. In light of this, the motion for the debate, kindly contributed by Natalie Sedacca, was as follows: This House would make homes that employ domestic workers subject to labour inspections”.

“This House would make homes that employ domestic workers subject to labour inspections”.

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Lawyers without Borders host Human Rights moot competition

By Regina Yip and Samuel Leung 

On 5 December 2019, the UCL Chapter of Lawyers without Borders (LWOB) and the Centre for Access to Justice hosted the final round of the LWOB Human Rights Moot. This year, the two finalist teams, including Mia Chaudhuri-Julyan and Alex Diaper, and Olivia Bessant and Emma Lazell, argued a moot question relating to prisoners’ rights concerning disproportionate use of solitary confinement and the monitoring of prisoner’s legal correspondence with their solicitors.

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