On 4 May 2017 the UK’s human rights record will be examined by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The UK’s overall human rights record was last reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2012, which resulted in 132 recommendations for improvement. Continue reading “Universal Periodic Review 2017 livestream – 4 May 2017”
In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all) were agreed by world leaders at the United Nations. The UK strongly advocated for the inclusion of SDG 5; a commitment to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by 2030. Continue reading “Women and Equalities Committee report: Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 5 in the UK”
The Joint Committee for Human Rights (JCHR) released the report Human Rights and Business 2017: Promoting responsibility and ensuring accountability in April 2017. The Committee called for stronger legislation, stronger enforcement, and clearer routes to justice.
- The National Action Plan is the UK’s statement of intent on human rights – it must be more ambitious and set specific targets by which to measure progress;
- The Government should introduce legislation to impose a duty on all companies to prevent human rights abuses, as well as a criminal offence of ‘failure to prevent human rights abuses’ similar to offences created for bribery in the Bribery Act 2010;
- The Government should introduce legislation to enable prosecution of a parent company where human rights abuses are found further down the supply chain;
- The Government’s proposed ‘Great Repeal Bill’ must replicate the human rights protections enshrined in EU law;
- The Government should support the proposals contained within theModern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill (requiring commercial businesses and public bodies to include a statement on slavery and human trafficking in their annual report and accounts); and,
- Human rights must be a key component of future trade deals.
- The Government should extend protections provided by theGangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority to other industries, such as construction;
- Government procurement must lead by example and exclude companies who do not undertake appropriate due diligence to ensure human rights standards are met; and,
- The Government should give local authorities the powers to close down business premises found to exploit workers (e.g. where there has been found to be underpayment of wages, lack of employment contracts or where there is a significant disregard of health and safety regulations).
Clearer Routes to Justice
- The UK National Contact Point (NCP) must be given the resources and government support to be an effective route to justice; and,
- Tribunal fees must be reduced to remove the disincentive for individuals to bring legitimate claims for discrimination and other abuses.
Chair Harriet Harman MP said:
“Article 50 has been triggered. We are removing ourselves from the oversight of EU law and looking to develop new trading opportunities around the world. Human rights protections must not be lost in the rush.”
The government published a white paper on Brexit legislation in March 2017. The paper covered 12 key themes, including:
- Trade: the UK is to come out of the single market and seek a new arrangement and free trade agreement with the EU.
- Immigration: a new system to control EU migration will be introduced.
- Expats: the government wants to secure an agreement with European countries on the rights of EU nationals in the UK and Britons living in Europe.
- Devolution: giving more powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as decision-makers.
The government also included details of its Great Repeal Bill, designed to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act and give Parliament the power to adopt parts of EU legislation into UK law.
Responses from EDF Associates
Liberty, March 2017
“This white paper has gaping holes where our rights should be. Where’s the guarantee to protect our EU rights so we don’t end up worse off than our neighbours across the Channel? Where’s the guarantee of proper democratic scrutiny?” – Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty
Responses from EDF Observers
EHRC, March 2017
“The government should use this golden opportunity to strengthen our own laws as we leave EU laws behind, including by introducing a constitutional right to equality that will make post-Brexit Britain fairer and more united.” – Chair David Isaac
The Ministry of Justice published a national report on the UK’s third Universal Periodic Review in March 2017, in advance of dialogue with the United Nations in May 2017.
The report stated:
“The UK is committed to maintaining its strong global role in relation to human rights and continues to comply with its international human rights obligations. The UK will also take action to tackle abuses of these rights.”
More information on the UPR process is available on the United Nations website.
The House of Commons Library published a briefing on the UK’s Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017. The briefing provided a summary of the UPR and an overview of the review process, including our Government’s response.
The House of Commons published a debate pack on UK policy on torture and the treatment of asylum claims in March 2017. The pack accompanied a debate on this topic led by Dr Tania Mathias, Alistair Carmichael, Dr Lisa Cameron and Kate Green.
The text of the motion submitted to the House was: “That this House has considered UK policy on torture and the treatment of asylum claims.”
The UK Independent Mechanism (UKIM) published a report on the rights of disabled people under the CRPD in February 2017. It noted that “the UK and devolved governments have not taken all the appropriate steps to progress the implementation of the Convention.”
UKIM is the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI), the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) and the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC), established by CRPD Article 33
70 recommendations were made, under 14 themes:
- Enhancing the status of CRPD in domestic law (Articles 3, 4);
- Equality and non-discrimination (Article 5);
- Awareness-raising (Article 8);
- Accessibility (Articles 9, 21);
- Independent and adequate standard of living and social protection
(Articles 19, 20, 26, 28);
- Employment (Article 27);
- Access to justice (Articles 13, 12);
- Education (Articles 24, 7);
- Health and life (Articles 25, 10);
- Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse (Articles 16, 6);
- Autonomy and integrity, including restraint (Articles 12, 14, 15, 17);
- Participation in political and public life (Article 29);
- Statistics and data collection (Article 31); and
- National implementation and monitoring (Article 33).
Just Fair produced a resource on the international recognition of economic and social rights in February 2017. It summarises the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, alongside UK-specific recommendations made by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2016.
Human Rights Watch released their World Report 2017 in January 2017. The report summarises key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide. It reflects investigative work that Human Rights Watch staff undertook in 2016, usually in close partnership with human rights activists in the country in focus.