UN committee reiterates call for decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland
A key UN committee has again urged the UK Government to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland in order to satisfy the UK’s international human rights obligations.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women yesterday published its concluding observations on the UK’s eighth periodic report to the body.
Although the committee welcomed the introduction of a scheme in June 2017 to enable women from Northern Ireland to access free abortion services in England, it said it “deeply regrets” the UK’s failure to implement its previous recommendations on abortion “on the grounds that abortion is a matter for the authorities in Northern Ireland to consider”.
An inquiry conducted by the committee under article 8 of the Optional Protocol CEDAW previously found grave and systematic violations of women’s rights in Northern Ireland and recommended the decriminalisation of abortion.
The report added: “With reference to paragraph 8 of the present concluding observations, and noting article 33 of the Belfast Agreement or the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 which provides that the Westminster Parliament shall legislate as necessary to ensure that the United Kingdom’s international obligations are met in respect of Northern Ireland, the Committee urges the State party to implement, without further delay, the recommendations contained in the Committee’s report following its inquiry under article 8 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention.”