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NI Human Rights Commission Intervenes in Supreme Court Referral of Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Northern Ireland) Bill

19 Jul 2022

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has been granted leave to intervene in a referral to the UK Supreme Court relating to the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Northern Ireland) Bill.

The referral has been brought by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, who is asking the Supreme Court to look at whether the Bill is incompatible with human rights legislation, and therefore beyond the legislative competency of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Commission intervention to the court will be heard tomorrow Wednesday 20 July. Judgment in the case is expected in the coming months.

Chief Commissioner Alyson Kilpatrick commented:

“The Commission welcomes the opportunity to intervene in this referral to the UK Supreme Court. In March we welcomed the passing of the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Northern Ireland) Bill by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

We are aware of, and have spoken to many women, who have been deeply distressed and adversely impacted by protests outside of health and social care facilities. We believe the Bill helps protect the Article 8 (right to private and family life) rights of those women and girls accessing abortion services, as well as the staff providing them. As there is no current legislation in place, we wish to see this Bill enacted as a matter of urgency.”

ENDS

For queries contact Jason McKeown at 07769361156 or through media@nihrc.org

Notes to Editors

  • The NI Human Rights Commission is a statutory public body established in 1999 to promote and protect human rights. In accordance with the Paris Principles the Commission reviews the adequacy and effectiveness of measures undertaken by the UK Government to promote and protect human rights, specifically within Northern Ireland.
  • The NI Human Rights Commission has produced an Fact Sheet with information on the case, including the human rights issues involved and the Commission’s stance on the issue. You can view it here.
  • The Supreme Court hearing will take place on the Tuesday 19 July and Wednesday 20 July 2022. It will be broadcast live on the Supreme Court website.
  • The NI Human Rights Commission will provide its intervention to the court on Wednesday 20 July at around 11.30am. You can watch along here.
  • The Appellant is the Attorney General for Northern Ireland. The Respondent is the Lord Advocate of Scotland. Intervenors in the case are the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and JUSTICE. The Commission has sought, and been granted leave, to intervene in the referral to the Supreme Court.
  • The case will be heard by Justices Lord Reed, Lord Kitchin, Lord Burrows, Lady Rose, Lord Lloyd–Jones, Lord Carloway, and Dame Siobhan Keegan.

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