Irish Republican News · September 20, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Bill of Rights ignored

The London and Dublin governments should sponsor a process between the parties in the Six Counties to bring forward a Bill of Rights for the North, the head of the North’s Human Rights Commission has said.

Monica McWilliams said the commission had given its advice on the Bill in December 2008, but so far had not had a response from the North’s political parties or the Executive.

Ms McWilliams, who is chief commissioner of the human rights body in the North, was speaking after opening a conference on the 10th anniversary of the Human Rights Act in Belfast.

The Bill arose from the Good Friday Agreement, which was an international agreement with the UN. She warned that the “parking” of the Bill by the proposal from the Conservative Party that it be added to a British Bill of Rights could be seen as an infringement of this international treaty.

SHe said the Human Rights Commission had come under “sustained attack” from some politicians” because the commission, as a United Nations-accredited institution, was charged with holding politicians to account.

“We question whether human rights are protected enough in the legislation which politicians are seeking to put in place on issues such as parades, policing, hate-crime and human trafficking.

“What we do on prisons or death investigations involving the state may not be seen as politically friendly, but it is not supposed to be.

“We are the only body in Northern Ireland not controlled by the devolved government with a legal duty to hold that government to account.

“Any suggestion, therefore, that there should be a weakening in the scrutiny of the Government’s human rights record ought to ring an alarm bell and instantly raise questions.

“Who is saying this? What is their motive? If the answer reveals a political motivation, then perhaps we ought to be sceptical.”

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