I’m a third year doctorate student at Worcester College, and for the last two years was an editor for the Oxford Human Rights Hub Blog. It feels odd to write ‘was’ and remarkable to think that two years have passed so quickly.
My doctorate focuses on orders in the form of the now repealed Anti-Social Behaviour Order. That order could be made in a civil court or on conviction. It would impose coercive conditions – such as restrictions on association or a curfew – on the recipient for preventive reasons, and breach was an offence. There are now thirty orders in the form of or forms similar to the ASBO. These orders target a wide variety of behaviours to include community nuisance and modern slavery. In my thesis, I enquire into whether such orders are preventive and/or punitive. This entails significant engagement with case law of the European Court of Human Rights and domestic courts on articles 5 (liberty), 6 (fair trial), and 7 (non-retrospectivity).
I have often been left frustrated at inconsistencies in this case law, and in particular at the lack of a clear conception of what ‘punishment’ is. I suppose what has been of most value to me during my time at the Hub has been seeing the optimism that many contributors have attached to the uncertainties in human rights case law. Perhaps a little uncertainty is a fair price to pay for the capacity to develop human rights safeguards.
Thank you to everyone at the Hub for the important work you do and for making my time in Oxford more enjoyable.