NIHRC response to the consultation on Human Rights Act Reform: a Modern Bill of Rights
Date produced February 2022.
Below is a summary of the recommendations.
You can also download the full document through the links provided.
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission recommends:
2.11 recommends that the Human Rights Act is retained.
2.12 recommends the UK Government responds in full to the IHRAR report, which found overwhelming support for retaining the Human Rights Act, and develops a programme of education to support public understanding of, and engagement with, the Human Rights Act.
2.17 recommends that public authorities should be required to act in ways which promote and protect human rights for all.
2.18 rejects the negative framing presented in the proposals, particularly the divisive language and framing of certain groups of rights holders as less entitled to rights protection. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission recommends that this is revised to ensure the universality of human rights is reflected, and to prevent the demonisation of particular groups based on their ethnicity or circumstances.
2.22 recommends that protection of rights in Northern Ireland is strengthened, not lessened.
3.5 recommends that the UK Government fully considers the complexities and realities of devolution in the context of these proposals, including the history of rights in Northern Ireland, and details how any proposed changes will strengthen protections outlined in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.
3.6 recommends that the UK Government recognises its international obligations under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998, particularly, in this context, with reference to incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights and direct access to courts.
3.13 recommends that the UK Government sets out in detail what consideration has been given to the proposals’ compliance with Protocol Article 2, including consideration of the effect of the proposals on the rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity protections under the relevant chapter of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (and underpinned by EU law) that fall within the scope of Article 2.
3.16 advises that the protection of safeguards under Protocol Article 2 encompasses how those rights are claimed and enforced and available remedies. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission therefore recommends that in any assessment for compliance with Protocol Article 2, the UK Government should consider access to remedies and how European Convention on Human Rights rights are claimed and enforced.
3.17 recommends that no further action is taken in relation to the UK Government’s proposals until a detailed assessment of compliance with Protocol Article 2 is undertaken and published.
3.18 recommends that the UK Government provides greater clarification on all its proposals, to enable a full assessment the degree to which the proposals are compliant with Article 2.
3.26 recommends that the UK Government takes cognisance of the interplay of the European Convention on Human Rights, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Protocol Article 2 and ensures there is no weakening of the substantive rights, or how those rights are claimed and enforced, including access to remedies.
3.31 recommends that the UK Government considers and engages with the ongoing process to develop a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland to avoid contradicting and frustrating this process, committed to under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.
3.34 recommends that the UK Government ensures the continued access to domestic courts for human rights violations, particularly in the context of Northern Ireland’s post-conflict legacy.
3.37 recommends that the current proposals for reform of the Human Rights Act are withdrawn, in light of the likely damaging impact on the Northern Ireland peace process.