On 17 January 2017, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in Belhaj v Jack Straw & Sir Mark Allen and Rahmatullah (No 1) v Ministry of Defence. The judgment made positive reference to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. which had worked closely with Oxford Pro Bono Publico (OPBP) on the relevant point considered.
In Belhaj, Lord Sumption when considering the definition of arbitrary detention, made reference to the work of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The UN Working Group’s work led the Lord Sumption to the conclude that the irreducible core of the prohibition against arbitrary detention is jus cogens. The UN Working Group’s work on the jus cogens status of the prohibition against arbitrary detention was carried out in close collaboration with OPBP.
Over several years, OPBP, led in this regard by Dr Liora Lazarus and Dr Eirik Bjorge, worked with Professor Mads Andenas, the Chair of the Working Group n gathering and analysing state practice on abritrary detentinon. OPBP and the UN Working Group both affirmed that in international law there is a jus cogens prohibition of arbitrary detention. For an insightful and in-depth analysis of these issues and for more information on the case and OPBP’s involvement, see Dr Eirik Bjorge’s blog on the Oxford Human Rights Hub.