BRITISH GOVERNMENT’S PROPOSALS TO REPEAL HUMAN RIGHTS ACT COULD BREACH THE BELFAST/GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT
KRW LAW LLP, Belfast and Doughty Street Chambers, London have been commissioned by the GUE/ NGL group in the European Parliament to provide expert advice on the potential effects of repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998 (“HRA”) by the British Government. In this independent Report, published today, it is concluded that the current proposals for repeal of the HRA could breach the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. The Report states:
“Protection of fundamental rights and freedom from discrimination are principles which are central to and underpin the Good Friday Agreement and the transition to peace. These principles are the lifeblood of the Agreement. They were a key part of the impetus for it being agreed and accepted, and their inclusion has been necessary for holding the State to account for their previous and ongoing failures. Any undermining of these key principles is a matter of grave concern in the context of Northern Ireland.”
Repeal and replacement of the HRA was pledged in the April 2015 Conservative Party manifesto, but no clear model or timetable for consultation has been proposed. The British Government has so far failed to engage meaningfully with the potential consequences of repeal and replacement of the HRA for the devolved administrations in the North of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This Report is intended to provide a closer analysis of those issues, with a particular focus on the Irish dimensions, insofar as it is possible to do so given the vague terms of the proposed reforms.
Gavin Booth of KRW LAW LLP said,
“KRW LAW LLP and Doughty Street Chambers remain dedicated in assisting members of the public who have suffered and continue to suffer infringements on their human rights. The introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998 has impacted every area of law, and places obligations on all institutions of the State. The Courts here, as public authorities, must protect the rights outlined in the Convention across all areas of law. We provide advocacy and representation, to those citizens who feel that their lone voice is not heard or listened to. Promoting civil liberties and an equality agenda, is central to this area of practice and we provide proactive advice, guidance and representation, for people who through their life experience must deal with these agencies.”
The Report: The full Report is available from KRW LAW LLP (contact firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Report is legal in its focus but is intended to assist political groups, academics, the legal community and ordinary citizens in developing their understanding of the relationship behind the HRA, the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the practical ramifications of the proposed repeal.