Government Proposals to Repeal Human Rights Act Likely to Breach Good Friday Agreement

An independent report commissioned by the GUE/NGL group of the European Parliament on the potential legal effects of repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998 by the British Government has been launched today in Belfast.  

 

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.  The report concludes that the current proposals for repeal of the HRA could breach the Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement.  It 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."

 

The GUE/NGL group of the European Parliament commissioned KRW Law, Belfast and Doughty Street Chambers to write this report.  It has been authored by Caoilfhionn Gallagher, Katie O'Byrne and Keina Yoshida, instructed by Gavin Booth and Anurag Deb of KRW Law.

 

Further information is available in this press release and the report is available here.

 

Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Katie O’Byrne have also written an article about these issues for the Justice Gap (published 4 March 2016) which is available here.

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