Every Friday over the next couple of months, we are going to profile the careers and research of current and former OxHRH team members. From human rights in the Northern Ireland police service to the concept of equality in the Kenyan constitution to establishing a policy center in India to make better law for the government, our team members are at the forefront of the most cutting edge human rights issues. To start our Friday in Focus, we profile Richard Martin, former OxHRH managing editor and current LSE Fellow:
As I write, chapters of my doctoral thesis surround me. I suspect they are collectively wondering when they will finally cross the threshold of the Exam Schools door; in Autumn I tell, in Autumn! It would be fitting because it’s about this time five years ago I first arrived in Oxford to study for an MSc in Criminal Justice. But my research took me back across the Irish Sea, to ask what role human rights play in how policing is conducted, framed and debated in N.Ireland – a post-conflict society where debates over human rights abound. Over the course of a year, I interviewed and observed many police officers responsible for everything from policing protests to authorising detention in custody. It is their accounts, specifically their interaction with the law, that my thesis explores and critically engages with.
My interest in human rights quickly led me to the OxHRH. It was a pleasure to work as editor and managing editor of its award-winning Blog alongside an inspiring and talented group led by Sandra Fredman. Given today’s ‘post-truth’ politics, the challenge – perhaps more than ever – is to promote our research, to make it meaningful beyond the confines of our lecture halls. With over 10,000 monthly readers and thousands of followers on social media, the Blog is a powerful platform to reach lawyers, policy-makers and publics across the globe. I am particularly proud of our special series, which addressed the European refugee crisis, the legacy of Sir Bob Hepple, the jurisprudence of Justice Antonin Scalia and the impact of ‘Brexit’ on human rights protections.
The doctorate has been a stimulating and creative experience, but exhausting too. Highlights were the fieldwork, presenting around the world, and a spell as a Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales (I am grateful to the ESRC). I am confident the doctorate, and the skills and experiences I gained with the OxHRH, will stand me in good stead during my Fellowship at LSE Law, a position I took up this month. Though I suspect I may have to satisfy the itch of legal practice one day, for now, I am keen to further explore the practice of human rights in public authorities, of which the police are just one, as well to continue to write on topics in criminal justice.