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Tory plan to repeal Human Rights Act in NI would constitute flagrant breach of GFA

Date: 11 May 2015


NO EMBARGO 11 May 2015

Tory plan to repeal Human Rights Act in Northern Ireland would constitute flagrant breach of the Good Friday Agreement.

On the day of her reappointment human rights group CAJ has written to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers MP,  to seek urgent clarification of the new Government’s intentions relating to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Tories have committed to plans to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 which incorporates the ECHR into UK law, including Northern Ireland law, within 100 days of taking office.

However, as CAJ observes, repealing the Act in this way in relation to Northern Ireland would be a flagrant breach of the Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement, voted on by referendum and incorporated into an international treaty with the Irish Government, deposited at the UN. The GFA guarantees that the British government will ensure ‘incorporation into Northern Ireland law’ of the ECHR.  

Brian Gormally, Director of CAJ said

“The Secretary of State should urgently clarify the Governments position as to whether it intends to breach the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in this way. Such a step would make the UK an international outlaw and significantly rollback the peace settlement in Northern Ireland.”  

A copy of the correspondence and the relevant extracts from the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement treaty can be found above.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Human Rights which oversee compliance with it ARE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU). Rather are provided for by the Council of Europe, an international body of member states, established after the Second World War to ensure minimum standards of democracy and human rights, which subsequently expanded after the fall of the Berlin Wall to include central and eastern European states.