Theresa May And Other Senior Tories Have Hit Out At The Government After It Admitted It Will Break International Law
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The former Prime Minister Theresa May and a number of senior Tories have criticised the Government’s plans to break international law with an update to the Brexit divorce deal.
Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis admitted in the Commons that changes to the Withdrawal Agreement and the existing Norther Ireland protocol “does break international law in a very specific and limited way”.
But Mrs May said the proposals in the Internal Markets Bill, due to be published tomorrow, will damage trust in the UK, while other Conservatives said it would be “regarded world-wide as an act of bad faith”, and the government must show the country’s “honour is not for sale or barter”
The ex-PM said in the chamber: “The UK government signed the Withdrawal Agreement with the Northern Ireland protocol, this Parliament voted that Withdrawal Agreement into UK legislation.
“The government is now changing the operation of that agreement. Given that, how can the government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?”
Mr Lewis replied: “We have worked with the EU in a spirit of good faith and I know we continue to do that, both sides working in a spirit of good faith to ensure we do implement the arrangements which uphold the fundamental principles that lie behind the protocol.”
He added: “But the Withdrawal Agreement and protocol are not like any other treaty, it was written on the assumption that subsequent agreements could be reached between us and the EU on the detail.”
But Mrs May’s comments were backed up by Simon Hoare, chair of the Northern Ireland affairs committee, asking the minister: “There appears to be no certainty for the continuity of our country as a country that keeps its word and abides by the rule of law and international obligations.
“What certainty can my right honourable friend give me that the Government understand the seriousness of these issues?”
And Sir Bob Neill, whose question led to Mr Lewis’ admission, tweeted: “Any breach, or potential breach, of the international legal obligations we have entered into is unacceptable, regardless of whether it’s in a ‘specific’ or ‘limited way’.
“Adherence to the rule of law is not negotiable.”
The senior Tory, chair of the justice committee, said the minister’s reply was at least “a straight answer to a straight question, but a very troubling one nonetheless”.
He added: “Even as a ‘contingency’, a willingness to break international law sits ill for a county that has always prided itself on upholding the rule of law.”
The Conservative former minister George Freeman said it was “worrying” to see the government’s senior legal adviser Jonathan Jones resign over the matter.
He added: “Yes. These are, rightly, tough negotiations. But to defend liberal democracy the UK must stand by its international treaty commitments.
“Theresa May is absolutely right to highlight in the House.”
He added: “Oh dear. That sound you hear? It’s the sound of the Supreme Court preparing to remind ministers that intentionally breaking the law – even in a very specific and limited way – is, well, unlawful.
Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the defence select committee, also commented on Mr Jones’ decision to quit, saying Britain’s “respected voice on the international stage comes from our duty and resolve to defend and uphold international laws.”
He added: This cannot change as we secure Brexit – otherwise our stance in holding China/Russia/Iran etc to account and upgrading the rules-based order is severely weakened.”
And senior backbencher Sir Roger Gale tweeted: “Seeking to re-negotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol will be regarded world-wide as an act of bad faith.
“Those of us who supported the Withdrawal Agreement did not expect that the Clause 38 ‘get out of jail’ provision would be used to try to re-write an international agreement signed up to by the Prime Minister.
“I want to see a deal with the EU but that is a matter for largely Michel Barnier, and if we reach 31st December without one then so be it.
“What we must not do though is to undermine our international credibility. Britain is an honourable country and that honour is not for sale or barter.”
France teacher attack: Macron urges Russia to boost anti-terror fight
French President Emmanuel Macron has urged Russia to boost co-operation in fighting terrorism after the beheading of a teacher by a Russian-born man.
Mr Macron’s comments came in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who described Friday’s attack near Paris as a “barbarous murder”.
Samuel Paty, 47, was killed after showing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils.
The attacker was named as Abdullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old ethnic Chechen.
Anzorov was shot dead by police shortly after the attack close to the teacher’s school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north-west of the French capital.
The brutal murder has shocked France.
On Wednesday evening, Mr Macron will attend an official memorial at the Sorbonne University to award Mr Paty posthumously the Légion d’honneur – France’s highest order of merit.
What did Macron and Putin say?
Mr Macron said he wanted to see a “strengthening of Franco-Russian co-operation in the fight against terrorism and illegal immigration”, the French presidency said.
It provided no further details about Tuesday’s phone call with President Putin.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin published a brief statement quoting Mr Putin as saying that both parties “reaffirmed their mutual interest in intensifying joint efforts in the fight against terrorism and the propagation of extremist ideology”.
What is known about Anzorov?
Anzorov was born in Moscow but had lived in France since 2008. His family is from Russia’s Muslim-majority Chechnya region in the North Caucasus.
He arrived in France with his family as refugees, French media report.
His grandfather and 17-year-old brother have been questioned and released in the aftermath of the attack.
Russia has played down any association with the attacker.
“This crime has no relation to Russia because this person had lived in France for the past 12 years,” Sergei Parinov, a spokesman of the Russian embassy in Paris, told the Tass news agency on Saturday.
Mosque closed amid mass raids
Meanwhile, French media reported that the father of a pupil accused of launching an online campaign against the teacher had sent messages to the killer before the attack.
The father – who has not been named – is accused, along with a preacher described by the media as a radical Islamist, of calling for Mr Paty to be punished by issuing a so-called “fatwa” (considered a legal ruling by Islamic scholars).
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said the two men had been arrested and were being investigated for an “assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise”.
Police have raided some 40 homes, following the attack. Sixteen people were taken in custody but six were later released.
On Tuesday, Mr Macron said the Sheikh Yassin Collective – an Islamist group named after the founder of the Palestinian militant group Hamas – would be outlawed for being “directly involved” in the killing.
He said the ban was a way of helping France’s Muslim community, Europe’s largest, from the influence of radicalism.
The government also ordered a mosque to close for sharing videos on Facebook calling for action against Mr Paty and sharing his school’s address in the days before his death.
The Pantin mosque, which has about 1,500 worshippers and is situated just north of Paris, will close for six months on Wednesday. The mosque expressed “regret” over the videos, which it has deleted, and condemned the teacher’s killing.
Why was Samuel Paty targeted?
On Monday, anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said Mr Paty had been the target of threats since he showed the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a class about freedom of speech earlier in October.
The history and geography teacher advised Muslim students to leave the room if they thought they might be offended.
Mr Ricard said that the killer had gone to the school on Friday afternoon and asked students to point out the teacher. He then followed Mr Paty as he walked home from work and used a knife to attack him.
The issue is particularly sensitive in France because of the decision by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
A trial is currently under way over the killing of 12 people by Islamist extremists at the magazine’s offices in 2015 following their publication.
France’s Muslim community comprises about 10% of the population.
Some French Muslims say they are frequent targets of racism and discrimination because of their faith – an issue that has long caused tension in the country.
Nigeria protests: Eyewitnesses say security forces fired at protesters
One witness at the protests, Akinbosola Ogunsanya, said the shooting began after the lights were turned off at the Nigerian city’s Lekki tollgate. “Members of the Nigerian army pulled up on us and they started firing,” he said. “They were shooting, they were firing straight, directly at us, and a lot of people got hit. I just survived, barely.”
Ogunsanya added that barricades on either side of the scene were blocking ambulances.
Another witness, Temple Onanugbo, said he heard what he believed were bullets being fired from his home nearby and that the sound lasted “for about 15 to 30 minutes.”
Speaking to CNN from the scene of the shooting, Onanugbo said he saw “multiple bodies laying on the ground,” when he arrived to help those injured.
CNN has not yet been able to confirm casualties.
The State Government has ordered an investigation into the incident, according to the Lagos Governor’s spokesman, Gboyega Akosile. According to a tweet by Akosile, Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has also “advised security agents not to arrest anyone on account of the curfew.”
The protests at the Lekki toll gate have been mostly peaceful, with demonstrators singing the national anthem, staging sit-ins, and praying.
Earlier in the day, Sanwo-Olu had imposed a 24-hour curfew, including the closure of all Lagos schools. Only essential service providers and first responders have permission to be on the streets of Lagos, which has an estimated population of more than 20 million people.
“Dear Lagosians, I have watched with shock how what began as a peaceful #EndSARS protest has degenerated into a monster that is threatening the well-being of our society,” Sanwo-Olu tweeted as he announced the 4 pm (local time) curfew.
Death and severe injuries amid the protests have been reported since the weekend.
Amnesty International said on its Twitter account Tuesday that it has received “credible but disturbing evidence” of “excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters.”
A 17-year-old died in police custody on Monday in Kano, a city in the north of the country, after allegedly being tortured, according the human rights group. Many protestors and journalists were assaulted by police and thugs in the capital Abuja on the same day. Videos on social media show dozens of cars belonging to protestors burning and Amnesty International said three people died.
“While we continue to investigate the killings, Amnesty International wishes to remind the authorities that under international law, security forces may only resort to the use of lethal force when strictly unavoidable to protect against imminent threat of death or serious injury,” Amnesty also tweeted.
Other videos show a mass breakout of hundreds of prisoners from the Benin Correctional Center in Edo state in southern Nigeria. It is uncertain who is to blame for the breakout, with protestors claiming it was staged by police. The Nigeria Police Force said in a tweet that protestors carted away arms and ammunition from the armory before freeing suspects in custody and setting the facilities alight.
Edo state governor Godwin Obaseki imposed a curfew on Monday, tweeting about “disturbing incidents of vandalism and attacks on private individuals and institutions by hoodlums in the guise of #EndSARS protesters.”
Riot police have been deployed across the country. According to a tweet from the Nigerian Police Force on Tuesday evening, the Inspector-General of Nigeria’s Police has ordered the immediate nationwide deployment of anti-riot police officers “to protect lives and property of all Nigerians and secure critical national infrastructure across the country.”
Judge tosses lawsuit challenging DeVos’ sexual misconduct rule for schools, colleges
Background: The ruling comes as a major victory for DeVos, whose Title IX policies will be a key part of her legacy as secretary. She has said the rule officially codifies protections to hold schools accountable by ensuring survivors are not brushed aside and no student’s guilt is predetermined.
The ACLU had charged that DeVos’ Title IX rule, which took effect in August, violated the Administrative Procedure Act because the provisions “were arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.” The lawsuit had sought to vacate the rule.
On behalf of four plaintiffs, the ACLU argued that the rule will reduce the number of sexual assault and harassment complaints requiring a response from schools.
The lawsuit took aim at the rule’s definition of sexual harassment, as well as provisions that allow institutions to use a “clear and convincing evidence standard.” The groups that brought the lawsuit also take issue with the fact that DeVos’ rule only holds institutions accountable under Title IX for “deliberate indifference” and only requires a school or school official to respond to sexual harassment if there is “actual knowledge.”
Other legal challenges: The lawsuit was one of four ongoing cases challenging the Title IX rule. The other three are still pending but have been largely unsuccessful. All argue that the Education Department violated the law with its new rule by acting beyond its authority, and that the rule is arbitrary and capricious.
A circuit court judge in the District of Columbia denied a request from attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia to stop the new rule and to block it as legal action continues. Another judge also denied a motion to block the rule from taking effect in New York while the litigation is ongoing. Southern District of New York Judge John G. Koeltl said state officials failed to show they are likely to win in their argument that the Trump administration acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” when it finalized its rule.
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