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Refugee Week a chance to highlight that compassion is at the heart of human rights

20 Jun 2023

This Refugee Week the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is emphasising that human rights are for everyone, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.

Chief Commissioner Alyson Kilpatrick said:

“We are delighted to support Refugee Week 2023 and it is timely that this year’s theme is compassion, because it is something which lies at the heart of human rights.

Refugees, asylum seekers and other displaced persons are entitled to the same human rights protections as everyone else, including the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution; the right to health; the right to an adequate standard of living; the right to equality and non-discrimination; freedom from slavery; and freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.

We have raised our concerns about recent laws and proposed legislation brought by the UK Government around asylum and immigration. We do not believe these are compatible with international human rights standards.

The UK Government committed to ensuring no rolling back of certain human rights and equality standards in Northern Ireland as a result of Brexit. EU law has introduced some basic protections for refugees and asylum-seekers, seeking to reflect the Refugee Convention. We call on the UK Government to uphold these.

Our Annual Human Rights Statement has highlighted a number of concerns, including the Rwanda asylum proposals; lack of a Refugee Strategy in Northern Ireland; and steps needed to be taken to improving asylum financial support, refugee resettlement and accommodation provided to people seeking asylum in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is committed to doing what it can to raise awareness of and resolve human rights issues affecting refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons.

We wish everyone a wonderful Refugee Week 2023 and look forward to celebrating the diversity and important contributions of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons to Northern Ireland.”


Additional information

  • 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.
  • You can read more about the issues raised by the Commission in its Annual Statement 2023 here.
  • The Commission has highlighted it’s response to the proposed Illegal Migration Bill here and here.
  • It has highlighted its responses to the Nationality and Borders here and here.
  • Refugee Week 2023 will run 19 June – 25 June and is run each year to honour refugees and appreciate the contributions, creativity, and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.
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