Reflections on the relationship between the law and disadvantaged sectors of society

By Ayesha Sohanpal

Ayesha is a 2nd year law student on the LLB course at UCL. Here she reflects on her experience of participating in the Homelessness case study as part of Laws Connections, UCL’s 2-week law course aimed at introducing first year undergraduates to the study of law and its role in addressing social challenges. 

Navigating the busy thoroughfares of Euston and central London, where earnest appeals for donations from the city’s many homeless are impossible to ignore, before arriving in the quiet calm of the UCL law faculty’s home is a study in contrasts. Descending the glossy white stairs of Bentham House in anticipation of my first Laws Connections session, I could scarcely perceive the relationship between what appeared to be two discrete worlds, wholly disconnected and unperturbed by one another. Nor could I have realised the urgent relevancy of the ideas I would soon encounter over the next two weeks in potentially transforming the realities of the bustling streets I had just exited.

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Report from “Fight NOT Flight”: SPBC inaugural panel event on the Hostile Environment

By Surabhi Vanalia 

The UCL Student Pro Bono Committee held its first termly panel event on 21st November 2019, with a focus on recent and previous immigration policies which make up the ‘Hostile Environment’. This refers to laws and policies which make it difficult for migrants without secure leave to remain to reside in the UK.

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The Inhumanity of Homelessness Law

By Laura Beaumont 

“Home is where the heart is” but, if that logic follows, around 320,000 hearts are lost in Britain currently. By bringing this housing crisis to my attention, Laws’ Connections prompted me to look beyond the black letter of the law and to evaluate legislation through human eyes. To exemplify this, the article shall evaluate a real-life problem: The Council’s decision to displace the homeless individuals living in my hometown of Windsor, before the Royal Wedding in May 2018. In doing so, I will draw to your attention the injustice of disregarding a human perspective in favour of a purely legal approach.

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UCL host Inter-University Amicus Debate on the Death Penalty

By Anushree Mehta 

On 12th November teams from King’s College London (KCL) and University College London (UCL) debated the motion “This House Requires Countries Opposing the Death Penalty to Sanction Pharmaceutical Companies that Provide Lethal Injection Drugs”. While the proposition (KCL) presented a strong argument that excessive harm caused by the lethal drugs should lead to the sanctioning of the private sector, the opposition (UCL) won the competition, arguing that the proposition’s methods would be ineffective and could lead to undesirable consequences.

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Exonerated from death row: An Evening with Peter Pringle and Sunny Jacobs

By Anushree Mehta

On the 17th of October 2019, UCL’s Amicus Chapter welcomed two exonerees from death row to talk about their experiences with the injustices embedded in the American and Irish legal systems.

Peter was a political activist in Ireland, framed for a crime he did not commit – and wrongfully sentenced to death. The case followed a dramatic series of events, involving a bank robbery, getaway car, machine gun, the death of two police officers and a run-away criminal. Intense media scrutiny placed pressure on the police to find the killer Continue reading “Exonerated from death row: An Evening with Peter Pringle and Sunny Jacobs”

Legal Challenge Launched Against ‘Hostile Environment’s’ Impact on Maternal Health of Migrants

By Surabhi Vanalia

The ‘Hostile Environment’ adopted by the Home Office has been embedded into the delivery of health services. Charging for healthcare in particular affects the most disenfranchised in our society, including: victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), victims of domestic violence, trafficked persons, and children.

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What the UK can learn from Ireland’s ‘Direct Provision’ Controversy

By Conor Courtney

Direct Provision is an Irish approach to asylum law which incorporates a series of rights, and constraints, placed upon asylum seekers. These restrictions are places on those who are living in Ireland, awaiting the decision as to their status.

Although the State provides many necessities with regards to asylum applicants, such as healthcare, dental care, housing, food, and a weekly stipend, the corollary of these entitlements are equally important deprivations. As an asylum seeker, the State has maintained that there is no right to seek out employment. Continue reading “What the UK can learn from Ireland’s ‘Direct Provision’ Controversy”

UCL Laws student members of LWOB contribute to advocacy against gender-based violence in Namibia

By Emma Ziegler Steen and Jenna Tan

The Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) Student Division at UCL has for the past six years been engaging in research, fundraising, and publicity work to aid Lawyers without Borders’ humanitarian efforts in upholding the rule of law internationally. As part of the UCL Division’s work, its Research Team took part in LWOB’s Rule of Law Innovation Challenge (ROLIC). The team, consisting of UCL Law students Jenna Tan, Antoni Micocki, Romy Ng, Laure Sty, Lynn Temp, Markéta Lisková and Emma Ziegler Steen, submitted a booklet concerning practical and legal tools for victims of gender-based violence in Kenya. The judges of ROLIC were impressed by the booklet and invited the UCL team to create similar educational material from a Namibian perspective to form part of LWOB’s outreach programme there.

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Volunteering: ‘You know your Housing Rights Project’

By Caroline Jixin Gao 

A second year UCL Law student, was one of eight students to volunteer for the pilot project, in partnership with Haringey Citizens and Hodge Jones & Allen. In this blog post, she reflects on her experience delivering public legal education on housing law in Haringey and the wider implications of the housing crisis in London.

“Know Your Housing Rights with Haringey Citizens” is a pilot Pro Bono project, which involved us delivering educational workshops. As the name suggests, these workshops focused on giving Housing-related legal advice for residents. For this initiative, we worked with Citizens UK and solicitors from Hodge Jones & Allen. One of the solicitors remarked to us that they believe that Haringey is an “untapped market” for them to offer Housing-related legal advice, given the demographics of this area. As this is a pilot initiative, the conservative workshop numbers meant that we were able to deliver tight-knit interactive sessions. We were able to keep the workshops informal, and cater to the many specific questions posed by the participants. Hopefully, next iterations of the project will see an increase in turnout numbers, but this will also mean that the structure of the workshop has to adjust accordingly.

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Human Rights as a Western Construct: India as an Example

By Ila Tyagi 
LLM student, Ila Tyagi, argues against ‘universal human rights’ as they are typically understood, drawing from cultural relativist arguments and using India as an example.
In many developing countries, human rights are often considered to be western concepts imposed on them by foreign governments and treaties. The problem lies in the narrow and egocentric definition of human rights[1]. There are many arguments against the universality of human rights. This essay aims to explain some of the arguments against human rights and presents a solution to universalise human rights.

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