Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Commissions back NI Bill of Rights

Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has backed the NI Bill of Rights

Human rights commissions across the UK have backed a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.

Organisations in Belfast, Glasgow and London said moves to create similar British legislation should not delay the process in Northern Ireland.

Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and Professor Alan Miller, chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, are in Belfast for a conference on the future of human rights.

Mr Phillips said: "We fully support the conclusion of the process in Northern Ireland as soon as possible in order that a robust Bill of Rights can be enacted to reflect their particular circumstances.

"We also believe that it is important to consider the implications of devolution in the development of any Bill of Rights for the UK as the legal and constitutional issues involved are different in all four nations."

The coalition at Westminster has passed the question of whether to introduce a British Bill of Rights supplanting the European Convention on Human Rights to an independent commission.

The Conservative Party has been divided over supporting a Bill of Rights and whether it would interpret or supplant the European convention.

But a statement from the three commissions was unequivocal.

"The three UK national human rights institutions agree that the establishment of a UK commission to investigate the possible creation of a British Bill of Rights must not delay the process of implementing a separate Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland," it said.

Creating shared British values, educating the public in their rights and responsibilities and recognising the importance of social and economic rights like health and education have been cited in support of a British Bill of Rights.

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