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 Title:  United Kingdom of Great Britain Human Rights Practices, 1995   
Author:  U.S. Department of State    
Date:  March 1996    
 
 
 
 
 
         UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND* 
 
 
 
* A separate report on Hong Kong, a dependent territory of the United 
Kingdom, follows this report.  
 
 
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) is a 
longstanding, constitutional monarchy with a democratic, parliamentary 
government elected in periodic, multiparty elections and an independent 
judiciary.  Human and civil rights are recognized by statute and by 
strongly held traditions, but there is no written constitution.  The 
legal system treats human rights as assumed unless limited by statute. 
 
Throughout the United Kingdom, police forces are responsive to, and 
under the effective control of, civilian officials.  In Northern 
Ireland, because of terrorist violence in the recent past, army units in 
some areas reinforce the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).   
 
The United Kingdom has a highly developed industrial economy.  The 
Government provides comprehensive social welfare services.  The Northern 
Ireland economy has improved since the 1994 cease-fires, but pockets of 
high unemployment remain.  
 
The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), as part of  a report 
issued in July, called on the Government to withdraw emergency 
legislation in Northern Ireland.  In response to the decrease in 
violence, the Government pledged in August to establish an independent 
panel to review the relevant acts.  By year's end, the panel had not 
been created, and the Government proposed to Parliament that the 
Emergency Powers Act be extended for 2 years.  The Government has 
already taken several measures in Northern Ireland, including 
withdrawing some troops, reducing army patrols by 75 percent and ending 
them entirely in some areas, and opening some border roads with Ireland 
that had been closed for security reasons.  In December the Defense 
Secretary stated that no further troop withdrawals were planned in the 
short term.  
 
There continued to be allegations that security forces in Northern 
Ireland physically and psychologically abused detainees in holding 
centers, although these decreased as the let-up in terrorist violence 
eased tensions.  Allegations of past use of excessive force by the 
security forces continued to be a matter of contention.  Emergency 
antiterrorist measures enacted during the past 20 years restrict freedom 
of movement for 36 suspected terrorists and supporters (down from 69 in 
1994).  Also, primarily due to fear of terrorist violence, many 
Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland are self-
segregated. 
 
Laws and procedures governing detention that deny the right to immediate 
counsel and encroach on the right to silence have been widely 
criticized.  Provisions of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 
1994 that allowed inferences to be drawn from the silence of persons 
accused of crimes drew censure from the UNHRC. 
 
The cease-fires called by Republican and Loyalist terrorist 
organizations (whose members are Catholic and Protestant, respectively) 
resulted in a greatly diminished threat to public order in Great Britain 
as well as in Northern Ireland.  Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland are 
believed to be responsible for seven killings in 1995--four in December 
alone--in what both authorities and knowledgeable observers believe are 
Provisional IRA (PIRA) murders of alleged and known drug dealers.  Bomb 
explosions and defusions associated with paramilitary groups totaled 7, 
down from 22 in 1994.  Nonetheless, both Republican and Loyalist 
paramilitaries continued to engage in vigilante "punishment" attacks on 
alleged "antisocial elements" and to exile "informers" by force.  There 
have also been instances of arson against (Protestant) Orange halls and 
Catholic churches.   
 
Societal discrimination against nonwhite minorities is a problem.  The 
Government is taking steps to combat violence against women. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1   Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
There were no reports of political killings by the Government, but 
several deaths during apprehension or in custody raised questions about 
whether police and prison officers had used improper restraining 
techniques or excessive force against minority group members and 
criminal suspects. 
 
In May a black man, Brian Douglas, died from hemorrhages and a fractured 
skull 5 days after an arrest during which a witness alleged that the 
police had struck him on the head; police said he was intoxicated.  By 
year's end, the authorities had not decided whether to press charges.  
 
In December a black burglary suspect, Wayne Douglas, died in a police 
holding cell after resisting arrest.  Two postmortems revealed a heart 
attack, but Douglas' family asserted police brutality.  An investigation 
was under way at year's end. 
 
Three other deaths of black men in detention remained under 
investigation at year's end.  All died in prison after struggles that 
involved guards using extraordinary controls and restraints. 
 
In June a court acquitted three London metropolitan police officers of 
the 1993 manslaughter of Joy Gardner.  The officers had gone to 
Gardner's home to carry out an order to deport her to Jamaica.  When she 
resisted arrest, they gagged her with 13 feet of adhesive tape wound at 
least seven times around her head, causing her to asphyxiate and 
subsequently die of brain damage.  A police department investigation of 
the officers' supervisor, for neglect of duty in permitting the use of 
an unauthorized restraint, continued at year's end.  In July the UNHRC, 
alluding to the Gardner case, expressed its "grave" concern at the use 
of excessive force in the execution of deportation orders. 
 
In November the Southwark Coroners Court returned a verdict of unlawful 
killing in the April 1994 death of 37-year-old Irishman Richard O'Brien, 
who suffocated after being handcuffed face down.  Police shouting anti-
Irish epithets assaulted O'Brien outside a social club where they had 
been called to investigate a disturbance.  The coroner identified 31 
separate injuries to O'Brien's body.  Following the verdict, the 
family's attorney petitioned the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which 
had earlier decided there was insufficient evidence, to institute 
criminal proceedings against the officers involved.  At year's end, the 
CPS had not taken a new decision, and police declined to suspend the 
officers involved in the interim.   
 
The European convention on human rights stipulates that lethal force 
should be used only when "absolutely necessary," while British law calls 
for it to be "reasonable under the circumstances."  Human rights groups 
have criticized the British standard as deficient, but British courts 
have ruled that lethal force may be applied only if there is imminent 
and unavoidable danger to life.  Courts generally assume that a police 
officer who aims and fires a weapon intended to cause serious bodily 
harm; the issue then is whether there was justification for such intent.  
If not, the only applicable charge is murder, requiring a life sentence, 
and the courts have been unwilling to impose such a heavy penalty in 
borderline cases.  The alternative charge of manslaughter is applicable 
in death cases only if there is no intent to cause bodily harm; there 
have been few convictions on this basis. 
 
In February the trial of two British soldiers for killing 18-year-old 
Peter McBride in Northern Ireland in 1992 concluded.  The court 
concluded that the victim had been shot as he ran away after being 
stopped and searched, and it sentenced the defendants, who had denied 
murder, to life in prison. 
 
Private Lee Clegg, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment in an 
unlawful death case, was released in July.  Clegg had been convicted for 
the 1990 shooting of an 18-year-old passenger in a stolen vehicle that 
had accelerated through an army checkpoint in Northern Ireland.  In 
making his decision to parole Clegg after only 4 years of incarceration, 
the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland cited an appellate decision 
that found the killing unlawful but regretted mandatory imposition of 
the life sentence given the circumstances of the case.  The decision 
also took into account the recommendation of the Northern Ireland Life 
Sentence Review Board.  Although Review Board guidelines generally 
require a prisoner to serve 10 years in confinement before cases are 
considered, exceptions are permitted and have been made in other 
instances.  The decision resulted in serious rioting in some parts of 
Northern Ireland and drew criticism from many within the Nationalist 
Community.  
 
According to a report by a quasi-official advisory group, security 
forces in Northern Ireland have killed over 350 people, many in disputed 
circumstances, since the troubles began in 1968.  While there have been 
criminal prosecutions in 32 cases involving the security forces, Clegg 
was only the fourth soldier to be convicted for an offense while on 
duty.  The only other soldier sentenced to life imprisonment prior to 
the Mcbride case was released after 26 months in prison. 
 
During 1995 authorities and other knowledgeable observers attributed six 
killings of alleged and known drug dealers to the PIRA, presumably 
acting in a vigilante capacity.  A group calling itself "Direct Action 
against Drugs" (DAAD) took responsibility for four of the murders.  
While the PIRA denied a connection with DAAD, its refusal to condemn the 
killings contributed to public suspicion that it was involved.  There 
were no arrests in the cases by year's end.   
 
William Elliot, a known Protestant paramilitary, was killed in September 
in what appeared to be a Loyalist-ordered execution. Elliot was 
implicated in the April 1994 murder of Margaret Wright, a Protestant 
woman brutally attacked after being mistaken for a Catholic woman 
outside a dance hall frequented by Loyalists. 
 
The 1989 killing of Patrick Finucane, counsel to many IRA suspects, 
remains an open case.  Although it was widely alleged that Brian Nelson, 
a former Loyalist paramilitary and agent for British military 
intelligence, assisted in targeting Finucane, the Northern Ireland 
Director of Public Prosecutions determined that the available evidence 
was insufficient and decided not to bring charges against Nelson.   
 
Human rights organizations have called for the establishment of an 
independent public inquiry to investigate allegations of police threats 
to defense lawyers in Northern Ireland and of alleged collusion between 
the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries.  Amnesty International 
in August concluded that the Government had "consistently refused to 
carry out a thorough, impartial and wide-ranging inquiry into the extent 
of collusion."  Authorities pled security considerations in declining to 
publish a report by senior police officer John Stevens on the subject.  
Although newspapers reported that Stevens' 6-year inquiry had uncovered 
proof of the involvement of four members of the security forces in 
killings, the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions declined 
to press charges, citing a lack of evidence sufficient to gain 
convictions.  In September the European Court of Human Rights ruled in a 
10 to 9 decision that the killing of three PIRA terrorists by British 
commandos in Gibraltar in 1988 was a breach of the European human rights 
convention.  
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
There were no reports of disappearances attributed to the Government.  
At least 14 terrorist-perpetrated disappearances, going back to 1972, 
remain outstanding, without any significant investigative progress by 
the authorities.  A seven-person RUC team works full-time to solve the 
cases, but the victims, typically members of the security forces, 
suspected informers, or petty criminals, have not been found.  In spite 
of the cease-fire, the paramilitaries have not cooperated in locating 
any bodies. 
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
The law forbids torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading 
treatment.  Confessions thus obtained are not admissible in court, and 
judges can exclude even voluntary confessions.  Detainees who claim 
physical mistreatment have the right to an immediate medical 
examination.  Such a claim must be examined by a trial judge. 
 
The Independent Commission for Police Complaints (ICPC), established by 
the Government, supervises police investigations in Northern Ireland.  
Authorized to review all complaints, it automatically supervises cases 
involving death or serious injury.  It accepts information provided by a 
complainant and by any other sources, as well as that discovered by the 
police.  The ICPC can advise (but cannot require) the chief constable to 
take disciplinary action against police officers.  The ICPC reported 
that in 1994 it had received 2,810 complaints of official abuse, that 
its investigations had led to the substantiation of 30, the disciplining 
of 107 police officers, and the lodging of criminal charges against 6 
more.  Local human rights groups complain that the ICPC's powers are 
inadequate because it cannot act autonomously; it can only review cases 
in which a state actor or citizen has filed a complaint. 
 
In 1993 the Northern Ireland Secretary named an independent assessor of 
military complaints to deal with procedures regarding complaints of 
abuses by the army; he, too, has no independent investigative powers.  
His second report, released in June, noted that, of 217 formal 
complaints in 1994, only 15 were substantiated.  No disciplinary action 
was taken in five of these cases.  In six cases, the soldiers in 
question were chastised; in two, they were severely reprimanded (in one 
case for pointing a rifle at a civilian and in another for incivility); 
in one, the soldier was removed from the area (for harassing a local 
resident); and in the remaining case, the soldier was fined (for making 
a rude gesture at civilians).  
 
The U.N. Committee Against Torture and many human rights groups have 
raised concerns about ill-treatment of detainees in Northern Ireland, 
where suspects arrested under emergency legislation are interrogated in 
special holding centers.  It recommended that interrogations in police 
custody be videotaped.  The Government resisted doing so, on the grounds 
that videotaping could compromise operations and jeopardize informants. 
 
In December 1992, the Government appointed a senior barrister as 
Independent Commissioner for Holding Centers in Northern Ireland, with 
authority to make irregular, unannounced visits to any holding center, 
observe interrogations on television monitors, and interview detainees.  
His second report in March found some substandard conditions but nothing 
that would constitute torture.  The Commissioner recommended the closure 
of the holding center at Castlereagh, where there is no exercise 
facility and no natural light in the cells and interview rooms.  The 
UNHRC also urged that Castlereagh be closed "as a matter of urgency," 
but the Government has not announced any plans to do so. 
 
Following some widely publicized prison escapes in Great Britain, the 
Home Office in January drafted a plan that stressed prison "security as 
the overriding priority."  Prison facilities and regimes vary depending 
on location, with the best conditions found in prisons in northern 
Ireland.  Remand facilities in Britain, like holding centers in Northern 
Ireland, tend to be antiquated, overcrowded, unsanitary, or deficient in 
exercise areas.  Most permanent facilities are good, but human rights 
groups complained that overcrowding, caused by a 28 percent rise in the 
prison population between December 1992 and August 1995, led to inmate 
violence and alienation by reducing work and educational opportunities 
and limiting time prisoners could spend out of their cells.   
 
Women's prisons appeared to suffer the most.  In December the new Chief 
Inspector of Prisons halted his inspection of Holloway prison in London 
in protest at conditions there.  He was reported to have been shocked at 
the squalor and vermin infestation and particularly concerned at the 
treatment of prison inmates who were foreign nationals or ill.  He 
called for "immediate improvements" after finding an "over-zealous and 
heavy-handed" security regime that included the use of shackles on 
pregnant women having antenatal examinations in nonsecure areas.  The 
Government responded by assigning 16 additional staff members to the 
facility and issuing new guidelines to eliminate routine use of chains.   
 
There have long been accusations that security forces in Northern 
Ireland harass citizens, particularly young people, in areas where 
support for terrorists is considered strong.  The Government strongly 
denies that such behavior is widespread or officially tolerated.  Police 
continue to use plastic bullets in crowd control situations, a use which 
is restricted to Northern Ireland and which has been widely criticized 
by human rights monitors and by the U.N. Committee Against Torture.   In 
July a demonstrator in Belfast was reportedly seriously injured when a 
plastic bullet struck him in the face.   
 
Both Loyalist and Republican terrorists in Northern Ireland have 
continued to carry out frequent "punishment" attacks, typically 
involving beatings with iron pipes and improvised clubs.  The RUC 
recorded 76 Loyalist and 141 Republican assaults of this nature; young 
men ages 14 years and over were the most frequent victims.  While the 
Loyalists appear to target members of their terrorist cells who have 
broken ranks, the Republicans extend their vigilante activities to the 
broader Catholic community, punishing "antisocial" activities (drug-
taking, car theft) or sometimes even such acts as dating an IRA 
prisoner's girlfriend. 
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
British authorities can and often do make arrests or detain suspects 
without judicial warrants--especially in Northern Ireland, under laws 
applicable only there--when they believe they have reasonable cause to 
suspect wrongdoing. 
 
The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 gives a police officer 
of the rank of superintendent or above the power to authorize uniformed 
officers in a specified area to stop and search pedestrians and anything 
they are carrying for offensive weapons or dangerous articles if the 
officer reasonably believes there is a prospect of serious violence or 
terrorism.  No reasonable suspicion is required that the person being 
stopped and searched has committed a crime. 
 
Outside Northern Ireland, suspects arrested without warrants must be 
released within 36 hours unless brought before a magistrate's court.  
The magistrate may authorize extension of detention by an additional 60 
hours, or, in cases of crimes of violence, for periods of up to 3 years 
pending trial.  Persons charged with "nonserious" offenses can request 
release on bail; to be granted bail they must either have a local 
address or be firmly established in the community. 
 
Under the latest Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act (EPA), 
passed in 1991, members of the armed forces on duty there can arrest 
without a warrant any person they have reason to suspect of any offense-
-or intent to commit any offense--linked to terrorism.  Such suspects 
may be held for up to 4 hours and then must be transferred to police 
custody or released.  (From April on, routine military patrolling in 
support of the RUC throughout Northern Ireland dropped by 75 percent 
compared with levels before the cease-fire.) 
 
The most recent Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 
(PTA), passed in 1989, allows the police to arrest without a warrant 
anywhere in the UK persons they have reason to suspect of being involved 
in terrorism.  The authorities may detain such persons (even those under 
age 18) for up to 48 hours without legal representation or judicial 
review.  Suspects may be interrogated during this time, and confessions 
obtained may be used in subsequent court proceedings.  Under the 1989 
PTA in England or Wales, detainees are granted the right to have lawyers 
present during interrogation, but this is not the case in Northern 
Ireland.  Judicial review may be delayed up to a further 5 days on the 
authority of the Home Secretary or, in Northern Ireland, the Secretary 
of State for Northern Ireland. 
 
In September a British High Court ruled that the Home Secretary's 6-
month delay of parole hearings in the case of five PIRA prisoners 
serving longer minimum terms than they had been sentenced to was 
"manifestly unjust" and flouted the principles of the common law and the 
European human rights convention. 
 
Immigration legislation gives the power of administrative detention to 
immigration officers.  There is no time limit for such detention and no 
right to have it reviewed by a court. 

In March police detained a Punjab native with permanent residency in the 
UK, citing national security after the murder in London of a Punjabi 
newspaper editor.  Although the detained Punjabi was not charged, at 
year's end he continued to be held in custody pending deportation. 
 
The Government does not practice exile (see Section 2.d. regarding 
exclusion orders), but the terrorist organizations do.  A human rights 
group, Families Against Intimidation and Terror (FAIT), said it knew of 
287 persons currently in PIRA or Loyalist paramilitary-enforced exile 
and suspected the true number was significantly higher. 
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The judiciary is independent. 
 
The UK has several levels of courts.  The vast majority of criminal 
cases are heard by magistrates' courts, which are managed by locally 
based committees.  Their decisions may be appealed to the Crown Court, 
which also hears criminal cases requiring a jury trial, or to the High 
Court.  From the Crown Court, convictions may be appealed to the Court 
of Appeal, which in turn may refer cases involving points of law to the 
House of Lords.  The Appellate Committee of the House of Lords (which 
consists of senior judges and is functionally distinct from the 
legislative arm of the House) is the final court of appeal.  Once all of 
these appeals have been exhausted, defendants in England and Wales may 
appeal to the Home Secretary to refer a case back to the courts if fresh 
evidence has emerged that casts doubt on the conviction.  (Appeals may 
be made to the Northern Ireland Office and the Scottish Office in those 
jurisdictions.)   
 
The law provides for fair trial, and the authorities respect this.  
However, serious exceptions led the Government in 1991 to establish a 
Royal Commission to review all aspects of the criminal justice system in 
England and Wales.  The Commission's report, issued in 1993, included 
352 recommendations.  The Government in July passed the Criminal Appeal 
Act to establish a Criminal Case Review Commission.  The Commission, due 
to start work in 1996, will direct and supervise investigations into 
possible miscarriages of justice and refer cases for further appeal on 
factual, legal, and sentencing grounds. 
 
The Belfast Crown Court acquitted the remaining three of the 
"Ballymurphy Seven," a group of teen-agers arrested in 1991 in 
connection with an attack on the RUC, on procedural grounds.  The 3 had 
been out on bail since October 1994, when 10 boxes of documents 
pertinent to their trial, the existence of which had been previously 
denied, were produced by the prosecution.  The Court ruled that the 
failure to disclose the evidence was central to the men's release, but 
it described the prosecution's actions as an "inadvertent lapse" and 
strongly implied that the accused were in fact guilty as charged.  It 
called "implausible" the defendants' allegations that police used 
physical and mental coercion to elicit their confessions. 
 
With the entry into effect of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 
of 1994, judges obtained the power to instruct juries that they may draw 
an inference of guilt from a defendant's refusal to answer questions 
during interrogation or trial, although no conviction can be based 
solely on such an inference.  Human rights groups and the UNHRC have 
sharply criticized this change in the law.  A similar provision is in 
effect in Northern Ireland (see below). 
 
Indigent defendants have the right to free counsel of their choice.  All 
criminal proceedings must be held in public except those in juvenile 
court and those involving public decency or security.  In a trial under 
the Official Secrets Act, the judge may order the court closed, but the 
sentencing must be public.  Convictions can be appealed to successively 
higher courts. 
 
In Northern Ireland, special "emergency" restrictions affect due 
process.  Under the 1973 EPA, the Government suspended the right to 
trial by jury there for certain terrorist-related offenses because 
terrorists had intimidated the judiciary, jurors, and lawyers.  Such 
offenses are tried instead by a "Diplock Court," a judge presiding 
without a jury.  If the decision is to convict, the judge must justify 
it in a document that becomes part of the court record, and an appellate 
court may overturn it on substantive as well as legal grounds.  The 
Diplock Courts have been widely criticized.  The EPA also permits the 
use of uncorroborated confessions, but they cannot be the sole basis for 
conviction anywhere in the UK.  The 1988 Criminal Evidence Order allows 
judges to draw an adverse inference when a suspect refuses to answer 
questions. 
 
There were no reports of political prisoners. 
 
   f.   Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, home, or  
Correspondence 
 
Warrants are normally required for a police search of private premises.  
However, under the EPA, on-duty members of the armed forces or policemen 
in Northern Ireland may enter any premises if they believe they have 
"reasonable grounds of suspicion" that the entry is necessary to 
preserve peace and order. 
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
Strongly held common-law tradition, an independent press, and a 
democratic political system combine to secure freedom of speech and the 
press, including academic freedom.  Viewpoints critical of the 
Government are well represented.  The print media are dominated by a 
handful of national daily newspapers, all privately owned and 
independent (although often generally aligned with a political party).  
About half the electronic media are run by the British Broadcasting 
Corporation (BBC), which is funded by the Government but enjoys complete 
editorial independence.  The remainder are run by corporations under 
renewable government license. 
 
Human rights organizations continued to criticize the Official Secrets 
Act of 1990, which prohibits disclosure of a broad range of foreign 
policy and national security information.  They assert that, in the 
absence of freedom of information legislation or a public interest 
defense for disclosing sensitive information, the act shields government 
activities from public scrutiny, including possible improper or illegal 
activities.  Alleged offenses under the act may be tried in secret, and 
the Government need not disclose its justification for holding a secret 
trial.  However, the act is seldom invoked and has not prevented the 
disclosure of numerous internal government documents and alleged 
wrongdoings.  Attempts by the Government in the 1980's to prosecute 
officials who leaked documents generally failed. 
 
The doctrine of Public Interest Immunity (PII) allows government 
ministers to prevent certain information from being disclosed during 
litigation, on the grounds that its revelation would be contrary to the 
public interest.  In May the Northern Ireland Secretary imposed a PII 
certificate on former Manchester Deputy Chief Constable John Stalker to 
prevent him from giving evidence in court in a civil action against the 
greater Manchester police.  The Government maintained that any 
discussion of the RUC's alleged "shoot-to-kill" policy, which Stalker 
had investigated in the mid-1980's, could jeopardize the current peace 
process.  (Manchester's Chief Constable had taken Stalker off the 
investigation, and his findings, which he hinted might be damaging to 
the Government, were never published.)   
 
   b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The law provides for the right of peaceful assembly, and the Government 
respects this right in practice. 
 
Under the PTA, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland may proscribe 
any organization that "appears to him to be concerned in, or in 
promoting or encouraging terrorism...."  Membership in some 10 Loyalist 
and Republican paramilitary groups is thus punishable by up to 10 years' 
imprisonment, and supporting these entities is also illegal.  Human 
rights activists have criticized this law because it criminalizes not 
only terrorist acts but also association with individuals who commit 
them. 
 
   c.   Freedom of Religion 
 
Government policy and general practice ensure freedom of religion.  
There are two legally recognized official churches of the State:  in 
England, the (Anglican) Church of England, and in Scotland, the 
(Presbyterian) Church of Scotland.  Blasphemy of the Christian religion-
-and only of that religion--is outlawed.  The blasphemy law, however, is 
rarely enforced.  In Northern Ireland, the Constitution Act of 1973 
prohibits public authorities from discriminating on the basis of 
religious or political belief. 
 
   d.   Freedom of Movement within the Country, Foreign  
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
Citizens enjoy freedom of movement within the country and in foreign 
travel, emigration, and repatriation.  However, the Home Secretary may 
exclude from Great Britain anyone believed linked with terrorism in 
Northern Ireland, except anyone born in Great Britain or resident there 
for 3 years; and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland can 
likewise exclude persons not native to or resident in that province.  
Currently 36 persons (down from 69 in 1994) are subject to exclusion 
orders.  Several Members of Parliament, human rights groups, and the 
media have objected to exclusion orders.  The Secretary of State need 
not reveal the grounds for exclusion, and the evidence is not tested in 
any court.  There is no right of appeal to the courts, but appeal may be 
made informally to an independent advisor. 
 
The Government cooperates with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees 
and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees.  The charge 
has been levied, however, that the Government regularly detains a small 
percentage of asylum seekers, on average for over 4 months, as a 
deterrent to others who might follow.  The Government denies this, but 
figures show a higher percentage of detainees ultimately gain refugee 
status than do asylum seekers permitted to live in the community.  
Applications for political asylum dropped from a peak of 44,840 in 1991 
to 32,840 in 1994.  Of those, 825 were granted--the lowest proportion 
ever. 
 
Because asylum procedures are cumbersome and cases are backlogged, the 
law provides for granting of "exceptional leave to remain" (ELR) as a 
step short of full refugee status.  Home Office statistics show that 
three to four times as many asylum seekers are granted ELR as are 
granted full refugee status.  While in ELR status, however, individuals 
are denied the benefit of family reunion.  Human rights groups maintain 
that the Government does not apply safeguards, such as assurance of 
access to a fair asylum-determination procedure, when removing asylum 
seekers to safe third countries and that these policies undermine 
Britain's commitment to provide haven for legitimate refugees. 
 
Section 3   Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
Citizens have the right to change their government and freely exercise 
it.  The Government is formed on the basis of a majority of seats in the 
House of Commons, which are contested in elections held at intervals not 
longer than 5 years.   
 
Participation in the political process is open to all persons and 
parties.  All citizens 18 years of age and older may vote.  Northern 
Ireland has city and district councils, as in the rest of the UK, but 
with somewhat fewer powers.  England and Wales also have county 
councils, while Northern Ireland does not.  (Scotland's structure is 
different still.)  Despite periodic attempts, there has been no devolved 
government in Northern Ireland since 1972 because of the troubles.  
 
In 1979 a majority of Scottish people voting (but not the required 
majority of those on the Scottish electoral rolls) voted in favor of 
devolution for Scotland.  Parties committed to the establishment of some 
form of Scottish parliament received some 75 percent of the vote during 
the last general election (in 1992).  The Government has chosen not to 
call a further referendum on Scottish devolution. 
 
British dependent territories, other than Hong Kong, have small 
populations, under 60,000, and all are ruled by appointed governors or 
administrators assisted by executive councils (usually appointed) and 
legislative assemblies or councils (partly elected).  In August 
Bermudians voting in an independence referendum chose to maintain their 
island's status as a British dependency. 
 
Women and minorities face no legal constraints on voting or holding 
office.  The Head of State is a woman.  The Head of Government from 1979 
to 1990 was a woman.  Female members constitute about a 10th of the 
House of Commons (including the Speaker of the House) and a 20th of the 
House of Lords.  Both major parties recognize the need to increase the 
number of women representatives.  The Labour Party has sought to require 
local constituencies to nominate only women candidates for safe seats 
that fall vacant.  About a fifth of Councillors on local authorities are 
women.  Several members of minority ethnic groups serve in Parliament, 
and many work in local governments. 
 
Section 4   Governmental Attitude Regarding International and  
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations  
of Human Rights 
 
The many nongovernmental human rights organizations operate with no 
government interference, and the UNHRC praised their submissions to it 
as "a tribute to the democratic nature of United Kingdom society."  In 
1973 the Government established a standing Advisory Commission on Human 
Rights to monitor human rights in Northern Ireland but has not adopted 
many of its recommendations. 
 
A number of international, nongovernmental human rights organizations, 
including Amnesty International and Article 19, are based in the United 
Kingdom.  The Government cooperates fully with international inquiries 
into alleged violations of human rights. 
 
Section 5   Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,  
Disability, Language, or Social Status 
 
The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, 
nationality, or national or ethnic origin and outlaws incitement to 
racial hatred, except that racial discrimination is not specifically 
outlawed in Northern Ireland.  Conversely, discrimination on grounds of 
religious or political opinion is unlawful in Northern Ireland but not 
in Great Britain.  Discrimination on the basis of religion is only 
illegal in Great Britain when its effect is to discriminate against a 
member of a minority ethnic group.  The Government respects all extant 
antidiscrimination laws. 
 
In 1991 the Prime Minister announced that sexual orientation would no 
longer be a bar to receiving a security clearance.  Nevertheless, in 
November an Appeal Court ruling upheld the Ministry of Defense's power 
to dismiss male and female homosexual members of the armed services on 
grounds of "incompatibility."  The Ministry commenced a review of the 
policy in order to advise a House of Commons special select committee 
due to consider the quinquennial armed forces bill in early 1996. 
 
   Women 
 
Statistical and other evidence indicates that most victims of societal 
violence are women.  Domestic violence constitutes one-third of all 
reported crimes against women and accounts for almost 25 percent of all 
reported violent crimes.  A coordinator of refuge provision, the Women's 
Aid Federation in England, says that it receives approximately 130,000 
calls about domestic violence each year.  Almost 50 percent of all 
homicides of women are committed by partners or ex-partners. 
 
The law provides for injunctive relief, personal protection orders, and 
exclusion orders for women who are victims of violence.  The Government 
provides shelters, counseling, and other assistance for victims of 
battery or rape, and it offers free legal aid to battered women who are 
economically reliant upon their abusers.  It actively prosecutes 
perpetrators of domestic violence, and the law provides for their 
imprisonment.  The courts have held that nonconsensual marital sex can 
constitute a criminal offense.  A 1994 law abolished the warning that 
judges had previously been required to give juries to the effect that a 
victim's testimony alone should not be adequate for a rape conviction.  
The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 made sexual (as well 
as other intentional) harassment a criminal offense. 
 
The law provides for equal opportunity between the sexes.  A government 
minister cochairs the Women's National Commission, a forum for women's 
organizations that presents women's views to the Government.  An Equal 
Opportunities Commission supports persons who bring discrimination cases 
before industrial tribunals and courts, and it produces guidelines on 
good practice for employers.  Women in Britain earned approximately 21 
percent less than their male counterparts in comparable positions.  In 
Northern Ireland, the figure is 25.9 percent less.   
 
The 1975 Sex Discrimination Act as amended in 1986 prohibits indirect as 
well as direct discrimination in training, education, housing, and 
provision of goods and services, as well as in employment.  In February 
the Government promulgated regulations to ensure that employees working 
part-time, almost 90 percent of whom are women, are entitled to qualify 
for employment protection rights on the same basis as full-time workers.  
Women have equal rights regarding property and  
divorce. 
 
   Children 
 
The Government demonstrates its strong commitment to children's rights 
and welfare through its well-funded systems of public education and 
medical care.  In 1993 the Government initiated a 3-year grant to create 
an extra 50,000 out-of-school childcare places.  Nine out of 10 children 
ages 3 and 4 now attend some form of nursery school or play group.  In 
July the Government announced that it would provide parents with 
vouchers for nursery education for 4-year-olds.  However, publicly 
funded care is available for only 2 percent of children under age 3.  
 
While there is no pattern of societal abuse of children, indications 
are, despite the lack of reliable data, that child abuse is nevertheless 
a problem.  Various laws covering England and Wales stipulate that 
children have the right to apply for court orders, to give or withhold 
consent for medical treatment (for those capable of making an informed 
decision), to make complaints to the relevant local authority, to have 
their ethnic, linguistic, and religious background considered in 
decisions affecting them, to have reasonable contact with their family 
(usually applied in a circumstance where there has been abuse), and in 
general to be consulted regarding their desires. 
 
The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child concluded in January that 
emergency legislation in Northern Ireland operated to the detriment of 
children there:  for example, the police and army power to stop, 
question, and search people on the street led to complaints of youths 
being mistreated.  The UNHRC in July regretted that corporal punishment 
is lawful in certain circumstances in independent schools. 
 
   People with Disabilities 
 
The Companies Act of 1985 requires firms employing more than 250 people 
to set out in their annual reports their policies on recruitment, 
training, and career development for disabled workers. 
 
A 1994 survey commissioned by SCOPE, a charity and lobbying group, of 
1,568 disabled people in England, Wales, and Scotland found that nearly 
a fifth had been refused service in a pub or restaurant because of their 
disability, 45 percent found it difficult to get information about 
available health and social services, and 51 percent believed that they 
had been refused a job interview or a job because of their disability. 
 
In November the Government passed the Disability Discrimination Act, 
outlawing discrimination against disabled people in provision of access 
to public facilities.  The Act does not cover discrimination in 
education, and the Government declined to create an enforcement body, 
creating the National Disability Council instead as an advisory body to 
carry out research and report regularly to the Secretary of State for 
Social Security.  
 
Access to buildings is improving but inadequate.  Many buildings are so 
old that they do not have elevators.  Since 1985 government regulations 
have required that all new buildings meet the access requirements of all 
persons with impaired mobility.  In June 1992 the Government put in 
place similar regulations for sensory-impaired persons. 
 
Government regulations mandate that by the year 2000 all taxis be 
accessible to wheelchairs. 
 
   Religious Minorities 
 
For a variety of historical and social reasons, the Protestant community 
controls much of the local economy in Northern Ireland, and anti-
Catholic discrimination persists in the private sector there.  Despite 
government efforts, the unemployment rate for Catholic men there 
remained twice that for Protestant men.  Government efforts to increase 
recruitment of Catholics into the police force (currently 92 percent 
Protestant) and related security fields in the province have been 
hampered by PIRA assassinations and death threats, as well as widespread 
antipathy in the Catholic community to the security forces.  
Applications by Catholics to join the RUC have nonetheless risen since 
the cease-fires from 12 to 22 percent of the total, and the most recent 
class of inductees included about 20 percent Catholics.  With postcease-
fire downsizing likely, however, the RUC acknowledged that raising its 
percentage of Catholics to approximate that of the general population 
would remain problematic.  
 
While active recruitment of Catholics by the Northern Ireland civil 
service has produced rough proportionality in overall numbers, the 
service has acknowledged that Catholics remained significantly 
underrepresented in its senior grades, and in November 1993 it declared 
its intention to overcome this imbalance.  Service-wide employment 
cutbacks have thus far hampered its efforts.   
 
The Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act of 1989, as amended, aims to 
end even unintentional or indirect discrimination in the workplace.  
(There is no legislation to prohibit religious discrimination in 
housing, education, or provision of goods and services.)  A fair 
employment tribunal adjudicates complaints.  All public-sector employers 
and all private firms with over 10 workers must report annually to the 
Fair Employment Commission on the religious composition of their work 
force and must review their employment practices at least once every 3 
years.  Noncompliance can bring criminal penalties and loss of 
government contracts.  Victims of employment discrimination may sue for 
damages.  While critics of the act have asserted that its targets and 
timetables are too imprecise, most leaders of the Catholic community 
have praised it as a positive step. 
 
   National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 
 
Although the law prohibits discrimination based on race (except in 
Northern Ireland), persons of African or South Asian origin face 
substantial unofficial discrimination.  The Home Office has estimated 
that there are between 130,000 and 140,000 incidents of racial attack 
and harassment involving all races every year.  An April study by the 
Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network found that 90 percent of the 
approximately 7,000 ethnic Chinese living in the province had 
experienced some form of racial prejudice.  Incitement to racial hatred 
is a criminal offense punishable by a maximum of 2 years' imprisonment.  
The Government strictly enforces these laws and regulations.   
 
A government-appointed but independent Commission for Racial Equality 
(CRE) provides guidelines on good practice, supports persons taking 
court action under the Race Relations Act of 1976, and may initiate its 
own court action.  After investigating a complaint, the CRE may issue a 
notice requiring that the discrimination be stopped.  The CRE monitors 
the response to such a notice for 5 years. 
 
Although ethnic minorities are only 5.5 percent of the population, they 
are a quarter of those stopped and searched by police.  Various studies 
have shown that, on average, black men face more serious charges for the 
same substantive offenses than do white men, they are more likely to be 
cautioned, and they are more likely to receive custodial sentences.  
Statistically, blacks are 7.1 times as likely as whites to be  
 
in prison.  Ethnic minorities are seriously underrepresented in the 
criminal justice professions.   
 
Section 6   Worker Rights 
 
   a.   The Right of Association 
 
Workers have the right to form and join unions, and the Government fully 
respects this right in practice.  Unions participate freely in 
international organizations.  Unions are free of government control.  
Like employers' associations, they must have their accounts certified by 
the Government.  Senior union officers must be elected by secret ballot.  
The law mandates secret ballots before a strike call; prohibits unions 
from disciplining members who reject a legal strike call; and allows 
members to lodge complaints against their union with a government-
appointed commissioner. 
 
There is no specific statutory "right to strike."  Voluntary cessation 
of work may be considered a breach of contract.  A system of legal 
immunities from prosecution for unions engaged in lawful industrial 
action was narrowed by acts of Parliament in the 1980's.  These acts 
exclude secondary strikes and actions judged to have political motives; 
unions encouraging such strikes are subject to fines and seizure of 
their assets.  The legislation also restricts the ability of unions to 
act against subsidiaries of prime employers with which they are in 
dispute when the subsidiaries are not party to the dispute and are the 
employers of record. 
 
In September 1993, the Council of Europe (COE) determined that British 
labor law violated the European Social Charter by permitting an employer 
to dismiss all employees who take part in a strike and then, after 3 
months, to rehire them selectively.  The COE requested the British 
Government to notify the COE of the measures to be taken to remedy this 
defect, but the Government has not done so, because it is no longer a 
party to the Charter. 
 
Legislation in 1978 and 1990 made it illegal to deny employment on the 
grounds that the applicant is not a union member.  The Trade Union 
Reform and Employment Rights Act of 1993 set new procedural requirements 
for union strikes, dues collection, and membership rules.  It also made 
it possible for private citizens, when deprived of goods or services due 
to strike action, to seek damages and to obtain assistance in this 
effort from the Government.  The Trade Unions Congress (TUC) in 1993 
lodged complaints with the International Labor Organization (ILO) on 
various provisions of the 1993 Act (see Section 6.b.); the ILO has not 
completed consideration of these complaints.  In March the House of 
Lords upheld a provision of the Employment Protection Act of 1978, as 
amended by the Employment  
 
Act of 1988, allowing employers to offer workers financial inducements 
to give up trade union representation. 
 
   b.   The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
 
Although there is no legal obligation for employers to bargain with 
workers' representatives, and while labor-management contracts are not 
enforceable in the courts, collective bargaining is longstanding and 
widespread, covering about 40 percent of the work force. 
 
Workers who believe themselves victims of antiunion discrimination may 
seek redress through industrial tribunals.  Remedies available include 
payment of indemnities and reinstatement. 
 
Contrary to ILO Convention 98 on the right to organize and bargain 
collectively, it is lawful for employers or others to circulate 
blacklists of union members seeking employment.  In May 1993, the ILO 
concluded that the British Government is obliged to protect union 
members from such discrimination, but the Government has not responded 
to this. 
 
There are no export processing zones. 
 
   c.   Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
 
Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited and is not practiced. 
 
   d.   Minimum Age for Employment of Children 
 
School attendance until age 16 is compulsory.  Children under age 16 are 
not permitted to work in an industrial enterprise except as part of an 
educational course. 
 
   e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
There is no legislated minimum wage.  The Trade Union Reform and 
Employment Rights Act of 1993 abolished the wage council system, which 
prior to September 1993 had established minimum hourly wages and 
overtime rates for adult workers in 26 low-wage industries.  No 
legislation limits daily or weekly working hours. 
 
The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 requires that the health and 
safety of employees not be placed at risk.  A Health and Safety 
Commission effectively enforces regulations on these matters and may 
initiate criminal proceedings.  Workers' representatives actively 
monitor the enforcement.  Workers can remove themselves from hazardous 
conditions without risking loss of employment as provided in the 
European Union Framework Directive on Safety and Health.  

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[end of document]

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