The Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Les Allamby has responded to the proposals published by the Conservative Party to abolish the Human Rights Act and establish a British Bill of Rights in its place if it wins the next general election.
Chief Commissioner Les Allamby commented:
“We believe the Human Rights Act is well crafted and both reflects and is embedded in our constitutional arrangements. It has played a valuable role enhancing the rights of older people in nursing home care, improving the treatment of people with mental health problems and protects the rights of many other individuals and groups in Northern Ireland.
The proposals announced by Chris Grayling, the Justice Minister include diluting the role of the European Convention or in the absence of such changes opting out of the European Convention altogether.
The proposal for a British Bill of Rights has the potential to undermine the Belfast Agreement, a binding international treaty. The UK Government committed to legislating for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland as a part of the 1998 Agreement. This requires building upon the protections contained the European Convention on Human Rights.
The UK has always prided itself on upholding human rights standards internationally and these proposals and the proposals announced by the Minister for Justice are likely to undermine influence and standing abroad.
For anyone who wishes to tamper with current Human Rights mechanisms a strong message must be sent namely, that nowhere in the world has the repeal of existing Human Rights protections been the starting point for improving the lives of ordinary people.”
Notes to Editors
1. 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 Action (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.
03 Oct 2014