Scottish and Northern Irish Human Rights Commissions express joint concerns on Bill of Rights

5 April 2010 by

The Scottish and Northern Irish Human Rights Commissions have issued a joint statement responding to the Conservative Party’s plans to repeal the Human Rights Act and introduce a British Bill of Rights.

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC), is quoted on their website. Interestingly, he makes the link between the HRA and devolution for Scotland: “The Human Rights Act in combination with the Scotland Act is an important pillar of devolution for Scotland. Rather than needing to be repealed it needs to be progressively built upon in Scotland.” Justice, a Human Rights organisation, made the same point on devolution in a recent report.

Professor Monica McWilliams, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission said: “Nowhere in the world has the repeal of existing human rights protections been a starting point for discussing a proposed Bill of Rights.”

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The joint statement reads:

  1. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission agree that the UK Human Rights Act 1998 should be ringfenced and built upon as part of further progress in the promotion and protection of human rights within and across all jurisdictions including devolved, excepted and reserved areas.
  2. Both Commissions agree that any process towards establishing a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, or other similar statute, for the UK or any of its constituent parts, which seeks to repeal the UK Human Rights Act 1998 in part or whole would be retrogressive in terms of the promotion and protection of human rights. Both Commissions agree that they will oppose any such process.
  3. Both Commissions agree that the above positions are consistent with adherence to the UN Paris Principles and the responsibilities and mandates of both national human rights institutions.

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