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July 10, 2012

"Londoners fight Olympic missiles at high court"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable article sent my way by Blaise (who has now earned extra credit for sending this my way).  Here is how the story starts:

London residents went to court on Monday to stop the government placing surface-to-air missiles on top of their apartment block during the Olympics, saying it could make them a target for attacks.

Britain's Ministry of Defence confirmed last week that the missile systems would be deployed at six sites across the capital during the Games to provide a "powerful deterrent" against a terror attack from the air.

Tenants of one of two blocks of flats near the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, on which missiles will be based launched legal action last week, saying that the move would breach their human rights.

Lawyer Marc Willers, representing a group of residents from the Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone, east London, told a judge at London's high court the "unprecedented" move had caused them to fear for their safety.

"They have a fully justified fear that installation or deployment of the missile system on the roof of the Fred Wigg Tower gives rise to the additional risk that the tower itself may become the focus of a terrorist attack," he said.

Residents from the block of more than 100 local authority-owned homes are seeking an injunction to stop the systems being stationed there, claiming their rights have been breached because they were not consulted on the plans.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has said the MoD will defend the proceedings "vigorously" and is confident of defeating them.

Though not clarified in this article, I would guess that the residents here may be citing for their claims to one or both of two major modern international and regional human rights conventions: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) and/or the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“ECHR”).

UPDATE:  Blaise has now sent along this follow-up AP story, which is headlined "Judge OKs rooftop missiles during London Olympics."

July 10, 2012 in Course materials and schedule, Current Affairs, Notable real cases | Permalink


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I spoke with Ren's friend, Emma, who lives in London, and this was obviously a pretty big issue for them. Emma also showed us a battleship that they brought in right next to Tower Bridge. I wonder how much security a battleship actually provides versus how much people think it provides? In other words, I wonder if a battleship functionally and significantly improves security or if it serves more to calm individuals who may worry about their safety while in London?


Posted by: Katie | Jul 15, 2012 10:06:21 AM

Just a few more thoughts on my discussion with Emma:

I also spoke to Emma about a few other issues that differ from our system in the states. I asked her about the homeless population and she explained that in the U.K., they provide housing for the homeless population and the people who live on the street are the ones who have refused the free housing. They also have drug and alcohol abuse programs for them as well as mental health support.

She also explained that in London they have not had trash cans (or rubbish bins) since around 2005 because people can put bombs in them. The ones that they do have are clear plastic bags. I was surprised at how clean the area was despite the fact that there are so few places to dispose of trash, but it will be interesting to see how much litter the Olympics cause.

Another difference that she pointed out was the crosswalks. She said that in the past six months she was seen two dead bodies that were killed by cars and she takes the crosswalks and walk/don't walk signs very seriously. Perhaps it's because I grew up in a small town that I find this surprising, but even in Columbus cars seem to yield to pedestrians even when they aren't using a crosswalk.

Posted by: Katie | Jul 16, 2012 5:53:38 AM

Yeah, the discussion with Emma was very interesting. To provide some background, she's a friend of mine from high school, born in the U.S. and lived abroad the last six years (in England for the last 2 years). She seemed fairly dismissive of most of the security practices and their utility compared with how much they intrude on the rights and privacy of ordinary citizens. I'm not sure if this is a "typical" Londoner view or a belief in individual liberty she inherited from her time in the U.S.

Posted by: Ren | Jul 17, 2012 3:01:58 PM

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