The Bar Human Rights Committee is the independent, international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales. It is dedicated to promoting justice and respect for human rights through the rule of law.
BHRC works around the world to uphold international human rights law, as well as internationally recognised human rights norms and standards. We provide expert guidance and advice to local partner NGOs, legal professionals and State institutions.
We support and protect lawyers, judges, human rights defenders and journalists who are oppressed in their work or face retaliations through harassment, persecution, violence or arbitrary arrest, detention and death.
BHRC challenges human rights violations around the world, pursuing accountability and remedies for victims through formal statements and letters of concern, in-depth reports, legal interventions such as through Amicus Curiae briefs, and with diplomacy through mediation.
BHRC improves understanding and implementation of international human rights protections through public and targeted education, awareness-raising, and bespoke international human rights law training for lawyers, judges, magistrates, police, social workers, and civil society around the world.
LATEST NEWS AND MEDIA
In July 2016 the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales published a report on migrant camps at Calais and Grande-Synthe in France, highlighting allegations of police violence, police failure to protect residents within the camps, and a lack of access to justice.
BHRC representatives visited the Jungle and Grande-Synthe camps in March 2016, meeting with residents and NGOs working within the camps, including Médicins San Frontières, the UN and Help Refugees UK.
The report highlights specific allegations of police violence documented by the Legal Advice Centre in Calais, which include:
- An Iranian child aged 16 who was taken by French police to a field outside Calais, where he and others were forced to kneel down in a line before being beaten repeatedly with truncheons
- A British volunteer who was pushed, slapped and strangled by police, and had a tear gas canister shot at her face, while attempting to document camp evictions
- An Eritrean man who, when complying with a police request to get down from a lorry, was kicked and hit by officers and had tear gas sprayed in his face.
- Police inaction in response to other violence targeting camp residents, including a gun battle between rival people-smugglers in the former camp at Dunkirk, and “citizen violence” against refugees in the town and port areas of Calais.
Remembering Sir Nigel Rodley
In January 2017, BHRC and the global human rights community lost one of its most dedicated advocates.
Professor Sir Nigel Rodley joined BHRC’s Advisory Board in 2013. He was a valued supporter of BHRC’s work and always there when needed with his calm, focused and clever voice of experience and intellect.
He was a true expert in International Human Rights law, a leading light, an authority and one possessed with impeccable judgement. Nigel was a fiercely clever academic but possessed of top-level legal practitioner skills through his work as legal advisor at Amnesty International, as Chairman and then member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as Special Rapporteur on torture and as part of Doughty Street Chambers’ International law team.
His passion for international human rights law and dedication to ending torture will live on in the work of BHRC and countless other human rights organisations who use the international human rights law, specifically the UN Convention Against Torture that Sir Rodley helped draft, to seek justice across the globe.
The Bar Human Rights Committee regularly produces in-depth reports on global human rights issues. We provide expert analysis of ongoing or historic human rights abuses and situations of concern, connecting detailed in-country research to our expertise on matters of international law. Our recent work includes:
- Breakdown: the dismantling of the Calais “Jungle” and of the promises to its unaccompanied children (2017)
- Policing and Legal Representation in the Calais Migrant Camps (2016)
- Witchcraft Accusations in Nepal (2014)
- An Unfinished War: Torture and Sexual Violence in Sri Lanka (2014)
BHRC’s Trial Observation Unit regularly identifies legal proceedings where defendants’ fair trial rights or the rule of law are under threat. We send international law experts around the world to monitor these proceedings and report back on violations of the prosecuting country’s international human rights obligations. Recent BHRC Trial Observation Reports include:
- The trials of protestors in Zimbabwe (2019)
- Turkey Zaman Newspaper: Journalists on trial (2018)
- 43 lawyers prosecuted by Turkey (2016)
- The prosecution the former President of the Republic of the Maldives (2015)
- Bahrain’s prosecution of Shi’a opposition and human rights activists (2010)
BHRC publishes widely-shared Statements on a broad range of human rights issues and alleged abuses, often in collaboration with international partners. We harness international opinion, legal expertise and media reach to highlight under-reported human rights violations, bringing them to wider attention, building consensus and evidence, and pushing forward the argument for meaningful remedies.
BHRC issues formal letters of concern in relation to human rights concerns, addressed to those in positions of authority. In doing so, we aim to demonstrate to state authorities that international attention is focused on thei actions, enable dialogue to take place between BHRC and relevant officials (or other individuals), and build pressure for cases to be reviewed and any violations curtailed.
BHRC intervenes in cases around the world, providing expertise on international human rights law to prevent individual injustices and strengthen broader protections in cases where legal precedents could be set.
JOIN THE BAR HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
The Bar Human Rights Committee relies on membership subscriptions and individual donations to fund our ongoing work around the world. As a member, you will also receive up to date news about BHRC’s work, opportunities to get involved in projects (or in the drafting of statements, letters or research reports via our new Drafting Committee) and invitations to BHRC events.
BHRC Membership is open to every practising or non-practising member of the Bar of England and Wales, and all law students (including trainees and pupils) in England and Wales.
Your support enables us to produce statements, letters of concern and amicus curiae briefs in support of people facing unfair trials and imprisonment; send our Trial Observation Unit to witness and monitor unjust or unfair trials wherever they occur; provide international training, support and leadership to lawyers, human rights defenders and civil society groups under threat, and much more.