NIHRC and ECNI submission to the Introductory Inquiry into the Operation of the Protocol by the House of Lords Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland
Read the joint submission from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to the Introductory Inquiry into the Operation of the Protocol by the House of Lords Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.
Key recommendations in the document include:
3.4 The Commissions recommend that the NI Executive ensures that models of scrutiny and compliance with human rights and equality protections include effective consideration of Article 2 at all stages of development of law and policy.
3.6 The Commissions recommend that the NI Executive makes clear in its PfG Outcomes Framework, and any subsequent PfG, its support for the commitment to act in accordance with the UK Government’s obligations under Article 2 of the Protocol, and the commitment in the Protocol to keep pace with any future EU changes to the Annex 1 equality Directives.
3.10 The Commissions recommend that:
- the NI Executive work with the UK Government and on a North-South basis to build strong open channels of communication to keep informed of key developments of relevance to Article 2. This includes working with the UK Government to establish formal relationships for timely information to flow through the Specialised Committee on the implementation of the Protocol and the Joint Consultative Working Group on developments relating to relevant EU human rights and equality obligations.
- the NI Executive progress measures to ensure that equality law in NI is strengthened, simplified and harmonised into a single equality act, and that gaps, including existing gaps between NI and Great Britain equality law, are addressed as a matter of urgency.
- the NI Executive ensures people in NI have at least equivalent human rights and equality protections to those in Ireland. The Commissions further recommend that this commitment is reflected in the NI Executive’s PfG Outcomes Framework and in any subsequent PfG.
- the NI Executive, and NI Departments, ensure effective and regular engagement with a range of NI stakeholders, including civil society and human rights and equality groups, to identify impacts of the implementation of the Protocol on people living in NI in relation to human rights and equality considerations.
4.5 The Commissions recommend that the Committee scrutinises the UK Government’s commitment in Article 2 to ensure that there is no diminution of human rights and equality as a result of leaving the EU. In particular, the Commissions recommend that the Committee gives consideration to holding a Committee inquiry, in due course, into the UK Government’s approach to implementing its commitment in Article 2, with a focus on communication, monitoring and engagement.
4.6 The Commissions recommend that, as part of its role to scrutinise the Protocol’s overall impact on NI, the Committee continues to engage regularly with a range of NI stakeholders, including the Commissions, civil society and human rights and equality groups, to identify human rights and equality impacts of the implementation of the Protocol on people living in NI.
5.5 The Commissions recommend that UK Government and the supervisory bodies established under the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement and the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement establish formal structures for open, transparent and regular engagement with equality and human rights stakeholders in NI.
5.13 The Commissions recommend that the Committee urge the UK Government engage in a public awareness raising exercise outlining the roles and remit of the various UK-EU oversight bodies of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement and the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement and which clarifies the role of the NI Executive input in relation to each of these bodies.