Oireachtas committee warned over UK human rights axe

Emily Logan - Childrens Ombudsman Pic: Feargal Ward 07/08/13
Emily Logan

The Good Friday Agreement will be damaged if the UK government scraps its Human Rights Act and withdraws from the European Convention of Human Rights, an Oireachtas committee heard today.

The UK government is not planning to leave the ECHR but has left the option “on the table”, according to UK ministers.

Prime Minister David Cameron recently described human rights legislation in the UK as a “complete mess”.

Emily Logan, chief commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, appeared before the Good Friday Agreement Committee alongside representatives of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

According to the Irish Times, Ms Logan said: “Repeal of the act and withdrawal from the European Convention would have negative consequences for the uniformity of human rights standards across these islands.

“The importance of promoting and protecting human rights is fundamental to safeguarding peace, respect and inclusion in communities across the island of Ireland.”

She added that it is “the hope of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission” that the Government of Ireland will maintain its commitment to safeguarding the Agreement.

The UK government was elected on a manifesto which promised: “The next Conservative Government will scrap the Human Rights Act, and introduce a British Bill of Rights.

“This will break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights, and make our own Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK.”

Reaffirming his party’s commitment to the pledge, UK justice minister Dominic Raab told MPs this week: “Our plans don’t involve us leaving the convention, that’s not our objective - but our number one priority is to restore some balance to our human rights laws, so no option is off the table.”

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