Merry Christmas from Lacuna!

Merry ChristmasThank you to all our subscribers for your support this year. We hope you have a lovely Christmas and are looking forward to the exciting new content we will be posting in the run up to Lacuna’s launch in February 2014!

In the meantime, please check out this fantastic video from the Open Society Foundations, first published in March 2013.

To make sure you don’t miss any of our new content, subscribe to our mailing list, follow us on Twitter and like our page on facebook.

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Caesareans, Transparency, Torture and Prisoner Votes – the Human Rights Roundup

Another excellent Human Rights Roundup from the UK Human Rights blog. Subscribe to our mailing list, follow us on twitter, and like our facebook page for more quality content like this.

UK Human Rights Blog

HRRWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular raging winter storm of human rights news and views.  The full list of links can be found here.  You can find previous roundups here.  Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd. 

The Government received an unwelcome early christmas present this week, with the Joint Parliamentary Committee reporting that a blanket ban on prisoner enfranchisement had no rational basis. Meanwhile, Britain’s potentially unlawful treatment of detainees with regard to rendition and torture are coming to light with the Gibson Inquiry, and a senior judge has announced that perhaps, after the ‘forced Caesarean’ escalation, there needs to be more transparency in the family courts and Court of Protection. 

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BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award honours: “an ordinary woman who fought with a mother’s love for what she believed was right and simply refused to give up”

Anne Williams at the Hillsborough Memorial Service at Anfield

Anne Williams at the Hillsborough Memorial Service at Anfield

Anne Williams, whose fifteen year old son Kevin was killed in the Hillsborough Disaster of 1989, has been honoured by the BBC at the Sports Personality of the Year Awards. Anne, who campaigned tirelessly on behalf of her son alongside the families of the 95 others who died at Hillsborough, passed away three days after the 24th memorial service at Anfield in April this year. She was awarded the Helen Rollason award for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity. The Liverpool Echo reports:

Having lost her beloved 15-old-son Kevin in 1989, Anne was at the forefront of those challenging the original inquest verdicts for many years, refusing to give up on the fight for justice despite seeing three memorials to the Attorney General and a petition to the European Court of Human Rights all rejected.

Her tireless campaigning, along with new evidence she uncovered, helped lead to the formation of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and, though she received her terminal diagnosis just six weeks after their historic report of September 2012, she was in attendance at the High Court last December to see the accidental death verdicts quashed and new inquests, set to begin next March, ordered.

LACUNA’s first issue: “On Protest”  to be published in February 2014, features an interview with the Chief Civil Servant to the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report. The publication of this report finally vindicated the victims of the Hillsborough disaster and brought to light previously unseen documents which implicated South Yorkshire Police, amongst others, in the disaster and subsequent cover-up. To read more about this story, and find out what it takes to bring about effective change through protest subscribe to our mailing list , like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

The scandals we choose to ignore

On the way to London to meet Lacuna’s extremely talented writer in residence Rebecca Ominora. We are interviewing for a story on austerity and immigration. For a taster of Rebecca’s incredible work in this area, look at this piece. More details on this story to follow. Don’t miss out: subscribe to our mailing list, follow us on twitter and “like” our facebook page.

reporting & writing

 (This article was originally published by the New Statesman magazine)

The unknown whereabouts of 150,000 people refused residency in Britain made headlines last month. The UK Border Agency took the usual flack for failing to exercise a “clear strategy” to deal with these cases. A Labour MP playing two populist cards with one hand – immigration and bonuses – demanded the removal of bonuses from senior UKBA officials. The pattern is a familiar one.

Yet there are far worse practices for which the border agency ought to be held to account. It is troubling barometer of public opinion that this is the issue that we choose to get up in arms about when far greater injustices occur within the immigration system on a daily basis.

Gladys, a young dental nurse from Zimbabwe, is just one typical victim out of thousands, whose liberty depends on the caprice of border agency…

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“Everybody loves economic growth, don’t they?”

Will Self

Will Self

Will Self, speaking on the topic of “Political Trojan Horses” on BBC Radio 4 this morning, argues that we should all be more critical of the superficially attractive  policies of politicians. In particular, Self takes aim at the “oxymoronic” language of “sustainable growth”, stating:

The suppressed premise on both sides of our increasingly pre-fabricated party wall is precisely the same, all our problems, as a society, as a nation, as a culture can be easily circumvented as long as we feed the horsey the right fodder to ensure its growth… Aah, growth. Everybody loves growth, don’t they? Without growth, we’d be back in the dark ages with Oxen pulling the plough wouldn’t we? And, if you’ll forgive the extended chimerical analogy, an economy is also like a shark isn’t it? Unless it keeps on consuming natural resources and transforming them into the flexible cartilage of technological innovation it dies, and we die with it. In the years leading up to the financial crisis, the most plangent buzzword in our political discourse was, sustainability, a term borrowed from the life sciences that denotes an eco-system capable of maintaining itself without depleting its resource space.. The notion of sustainable growth is oxymoronic, and yet no one except the most extreme Luddite would dream of speaking out against it. Why? Because the assumption is that to deny growth to any one part of the economy, no matter how bloated that may be, is to deprive its most meagre portions of the nutrition they so desperately need.

Click here to listen to the full eleven minute programme. The second issue of Lacuna, which launches in February 2014, will feature a variety of alternative perspectives on prosperity, and question whether Gross Domestic Product is the standard against which our prosperity should be measured. To make sure you don’t miss out on this edition, or our other exciting content, click here to subscribe, follow us on Twitter, and “Like” us on Facebook using the buttons below.

Should you be defined by the worst thing you’ve ever done?

Lacuna and Judge Joe Migliozzi Last week, Lacuna interviewed two people who have dedicated large parts of their careers to ensuring that  juries see beyond the worst thing that their clients have ever done. Through a painstaking process of researching and constructing the life history of the client they are defending, they are tasked with ensuring that those who have been convicted of capital offences are seen as humans first and criminals second. The exclusive interview, which will be published as two short films by Lacuna’s Head of Visual Content, Abby Kendrick, will be of interest to anyone who wants to understand what it takes to work on death penalty cases, or to learn more about why it is important that the context in which offending occurs is taken into account during sentencing. To make sure you don’t miss out, follow us on twitter and subscribe to our mailing list. 

Why do people write about injustice?

Lacuna Editor in Chief

Andrew Williams: Orwell Prize Winner and Lacuna Editor in Chief

In this piece, Orwell Prize Winner 2013 and Editor in Chief of Lacuna A.T. Williams, explains what motivated him to write his prize winning book: “A Very British Killing: The Death of Baha Mousa”. He also reflects on what George Orwell might have made of the death of Baha Mousa, a hotel receptionist, at the hands of British  forces in Iraq, and the reaction of the British establishment to the attempts of Baha Mousa’s family to understand what had happened. Andrew writes:

When A Very British Killing won the George Orwell Prize in May 2013, I wondered what Orwell would have thought about all this. Wouldn’t he have recognised the detachment of so many British army personnel and bureaucrats when faced with the system’s own injustice? Wouldn’t he have thought about his story of a hanging in Burma and hear again the awkward laughter of men who’ve participated, if only as witnesses, in something that is palpably wrong? Wouldn’t he have read the bureaucratic and political language of ‘lines of enquiry’ and ‘learning lessons’ and seen them as ugly and degenerate?

I don’t know. But I think he would have agreed that the writing of the story of Baha Mousa’s death and the failure to address the wrong was a necessary act. I think he would have agreed that political writing fuelled by anger is still an essential response. Orwell wrote once that ‘It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects.’ His main target then was the evil of totalitarianism. But I would like to think his underlying aim was to challenge indifference to the suffering of others. That for me was the real devil which emerged amidst the detail of my book.

To read more of Andrew’s writing, and stories from other contributors who write to  challenge injustice, follow us on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook and subscribe to our mailing list