Chief Commissioner Responds to Human Rights Proposals

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12 May 2015

Following the election of the new Conservative Government it has been reported that proposed changes to current UK human rights laws will be set out in the Queen’s speech on 27 May 2015.

In response to this, the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has commented:

“It is deeply concerning that after 17 years of improving lives and protecting the rights of the most vulnerable in society that a newly elected Government should be indicating its intent to repeal the Human Rights Act. This is even more worrying during a time of austerity.

Any changes to our current human rights framework, must not reduce the protections contained in the Human Rights Act, nor weaken the mechanisms for securing redress for breaches of human rights.

The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement committed the UK Government to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into Northern Ireland law, with direct access to the courts, and remedies for breaches of the Convention. The Human Rights Act fulfilled this commitment.

The Commission has repeatedly advised against a move which can only serve to undermine a foundation stone of the Northern Ireland peace process, reduce hard won protections for everyone living in the UK, and damage the states international reputation.”

The Commission has already engaged in this debate having had the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP deliver a key note speech on reform of the European Convention and European Court of Human rights at its Annual Statement launch last year.

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

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 Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.

2. The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP was the key note speaker at the Commissions Annual Statement 2014 launch. Watch Again : The RT Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP presents his key note speech on reform of the European Convention and European Court of Human rights.

3. The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP was the Attorney General for England and Wales and the Advocate General for Northern Ireland, until July 2014. He is the Conservative MP for Beaconsfield and previously held a number of positions in the shadow cabinet including Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice. He was called to the bar in 1980 and practiced as a barrister before entering Parliament. He was educated at Westminster School and Magdalen College Oxford.


12 May 2015