C4 Presenter Jon Snow at Human Rights Launch

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14 December 2015

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission launched its Annual Statement on Monday 14 December and was delighted to welcome the journalist and Channel 4 Presenter as the key note speaker at the event. He delivered a speech on:

“Human Rights, The Media has only just begun to understand. “From El Salvador to Sri Lanka, via Northern Ireland and Iraq.”

Jon Snow stated:

“This is a remarkable document, speaking as it does to the over-arching role that respect for human rights plays in consolidating the peace process in Northern Ireland. Much of what is in this report provides genuine optimism for he future. The Commission’s work provides robust cement to the work of political and civil society in bringing about the great changes that have occurred in Northern Ireland. As a Journalist who spent considerable time reporting the ‘troubles’ in the seventies and eighties, to read this report of the Human Rights Commission is both uplifting and reassuring. There is a transparency about both the achievements and the challenges of these present times. For an institution that has been in existence for less than two decades - in the aftermath of such division and violence - I pay tribute to the extraordinary resilience, and continuing work,of the Commission and its staff.”

NIHRC Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby, said:

“We are honoured to have the internationally renowned journalist launch our Annual Statement this year. The statement provides a record of human rights over the past year and highlights 86 areas of public policy dealing with both devolved issues and Westminster issues. The media have been crucial in allowing the Commission to highlight its work. Freedom of the press is a key component of the democratic process and it is vital that Northern Ireland continues to have an independent press that is unrestrained in its ability to report accurately and truthfully on what is happening locally and globally.”

ENDS

Further information:

For further information please contact Claire Martin on Claire.Martin@nihrc.org or 02890243987.

Notes to editors

1. The 2015 Annual Statement contains a traffic lights system with the aim of making the document more accessible to readers. Access it here.

• Red identifies a subject that requires immediate action by the UK Government, NI Executive or relevant public authorities and the issue may be an ongoing violation or abuse of human rights.

• Amber identifies a subject that requires action by the UK Government, NI Executive or relevant public authorities. The issue may not be at a level that constitutes an ongoing violation or abuse of human rights. Initial steps toward providing an effective response could have already been taken or the necessity of taking action acknowledged by the relevant body. Such actions may have commenced but are not yet completed.

• Green identifies a subject that has been acknowledged as requiring action to protect human rights in NI and an effective response has been provided by the UK Government, NI Executive or relevant public authorities. A firm commitment to address the matter will have been demonstrated and undertaken.

2. List of outcomes categorised by traffic light system in NIHRC 2015 Annual Statement:

Red

1. Conflict related deaths: transitional justice and individual cases (pg19)

2. Legacy inquests and inquiries (pg22)

3. The remand of children (pg30)

4. Corporal punishment of children (pg42)

5. Compensation for a miscarriage of justice (pg48)

6. Age of criminal responsibility (pg50)

7. Anti-poverty strategy (pg67)

8. Termination of pregnancy (pg74)

Amber

1. Consolidating, strengthening and clarifying equality protections (pg11)

2. Intersectional multiple discrimination (pg11)

3. Age discrimination (pg12)

4. Sectarianism (pg12)

5. Racial equality strategy (pg12)

6. Racist hate crimes (pg13)

7. Religious tolerance (pg14)

8. Gender equality strategy (pg15)

9. Persons with disabilities (pg16)

10. Extension of civil marriage to same sex couples (pg17)

11. Eligibility to donate blood (pg17)

12. Inquiries Act 2005(pg23)

13. On the Runs: Administrative Scheme (pg24)

14. Rule of law: non-state actors (pg25)

15. Investigations of deaths in custody (pg27)

16. Alternatives to imprisonment (pg28)

17. Imprisonment for fine default (pg29)

18. Women in prison (pg29)

19. Imprisonment of children with adults (pg30)

20. Definition of terrorism (pg31)

21. Powers of arrest under the Terrorism Act 2000 (pg32)

22. Prison review and conditions (pg33)

23. Abuse in health and social care settings (pg34)

24. Historical abuse of children and adults (pg35)

25. Domestic violence (pg36)

26. Allegations of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment overseas (pg37)

27. Deprivation of citizenship (pg38)

28. Mechanisms to identify victims of torture detained in immigration facilities (pg39)

29. Female genital mutilation (pg40)

30. Strip searches (pg41)

31. Syrian refugee crisis (pg41)

32. Child prostitution and sexual exploitation (pg43)

33. Human Trafficking (pg45)

34. Avoidable delay (pg47)

35. Witness Charter (pg48)

36. Closed material proceedings (pg49)

37. Access to Justice (pg50)

38. Public Services Ombudsperson Bill (pg51)

39. Alternatives care arrangements for children (pg52)

40. Stop and search (pg54)

41. Housing (Anti-social Behaviour) Bill (pg54)

42. Environmental Better Regulation Bill (pg55)

43. Health and Social Care (Control of Data Processing) Bill (pg55)

44. Parades and protests (pg56)

45. Participation of women in public and political life (pg57)

46. Defamation (pg58)

47. Blasphemy (pg58)

48. Accessible childcare (pg60)

49. Armed Forces Covenant (pg60)

50. Social security (pg62)

51. Social housing (pg62)

52. Homelessness (pg65)

53. Traveller accommodation (pg65)

54. Unauthorised Encampments (NI) Order 2005 (pg66)

55. Child poverty strategy (pg68)

56. Reduction in asylum financial support (pg68)

57. Crisis Fund (pg69)

58. Carers (pg70)

59. Supported lodgings (pg71)

60. Emergency healthcare (pg72)

61. Mental capacity (pg75)

62. Access to healthcare for irregular migrants (pg76)

63. Integrated education (pg77)

64. Shared education (pg79)

65. Academic selection (pg79)

66. Educational needs of Traveller children (pg80)

67. Special educational needs (pg80)

68. The Irish language and Ulster Scots (pg82)

69. A Bill of Rights for NI (pg84)

70. A UK Bill of Rights (pg84)

71. A Charter of Rights for the island of Ireland (pg86)

72. National human rights institution (pg86)

Green

1. Domestic Violence Protection Orders (pg37)

2. National Crime Agency (pg44)

3. Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 (pg46)

4. Victim Charter (pg48)

5. Care standards for nursing homes (pg74)

6. Children in custody (pg77)

3. The launch of the Annual Statement 2015 will take place at the Long Gallery Stormont from 9.30-11.30am. It is being sponsored by the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mr Mitchel McLaughlin MLA. Press are welcome to attend the event.

4. Jon Snow has been the face of Channel 4 News since 1989. Jon Snow joined ITN in 1976 and became Washington Correspondent in 1984. Since then, he has travelled the world to cover the news – from the fall of the Berlin Wall and the release of Nelson Mandela, to Barack Obama’s inauguration and the earthquake in Haiti. His many awards include the Richard Dimbleby, Bafta award for Best Factual Contribution to Television (2005), and Royal Television Society awards for Journalist of the Year (2006) and Presenter of the Year (2009).

5. Les Allamby has been appointed Chief Commissioner for a period of five years. He took up post on 1 September 2014. Les is a solicitor and formerly the Director of the Law Centre (Northern Ireland). He was appointed honorary Professor of Law at the University of Ulster last year and is a trustee of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland. He has undertaken election monitoring for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and International Organisation for Migration in Bosnia, Pakistan and Georgia.

6. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.


14 Dec 2015