Proposed Brexit deal would create 'significant gaps' in human rights, claims Irish Human Rights groups

Proposed Brexit deal would create 'significant gaps' in human rights, claims Irish Human Rights groups
Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has said the draft Brexit deal would create "significant gaps" in protection for people.

It is due to tell an Oireachtas committee this morning that the Withdrawal Agreement would create risks for people on both sides of the border.

It has also warned the deal leaves gaps in areas like citizens' rights.

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said: “Today is an important opportunity to recall the commitments made back in 1998 to respect and protect human rights and equality of opportunity. Since 1998, there has been substantial progress towards a lasting resolution of the conflict in Northern Ireland, grounded in its human rights and equality provisions.

“Although the UK Government has stated its commitment to protecting the Good Friday Agreement ‘in all its parts’, Brexit negotiations currently depart from that common framework, creating risks for people on both sides of the border, when it comes to both the rights and remedies available to them.”

Ms Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, and Les Allamby, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights, pointed to seven distinct areas where significant gaps remain in the protection of human rights and equality under the proposed UK Withdrawal Agreement.

    These are:

  • The actual extent of protections provided by the UK Government’s “no diminution of rights” commitment – how these concepts will be translated and interpreted with reference to EU law remains to be seen, in particular in relation to EU Directives on parental leave, pregnant workers and the rights of victims.
  • The UK’s decision to no longer be bound by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – the loss of the EU Charter in its current form would lead to a loss of legal certainty and consistency.
  • The legal basis for the Common Travel Area (CTA) - the formal legal underpinnings remain scant and need to be solidified in law.
  • The rights of citizens – any form of potential unequal citizenship runs counter to the principles of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement – clarity is needed on how rights and entitlements will be accessed in practice.
  • Justice arrangements to be agreed – justice issues, including in relation to the European Arrest Warrant are unclear. Questions remain on how oversight and redress powers will be agreed and maintained where the UK is not subject to the Court of Justice of the EU.
  • Possible future divergence on rights protections – it is the likely that in the future, Northern Ireland will possibly diverge from Ireland and the EU in EU-led rights protections. Should this occur, the ramifications of such divergence remain to be seen.
  • Strength of the dedicated mechanism – ensuring the value of this mechanism envisaged under Article 4 of the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol., which will include the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Joint Committee of representatives of the Human Rights Commissions of Northern Ireland and Ireland. Power and resources must follow the commitments made.

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