The UK Government has been roundly criticised by human rights groups and the UN Human Rights Council for only supporting 96 of the total 229 recommendations from the UN’s review of the UK’s record on human rights. This is only 42% of the total, whilst the average across other nations is to accept 67% of recommendations. The government has chosen simply to “note” the remainder, which is akin to ignoring them.
Among the recommendations that the government has declined to back, a number outline the need for the UK to limit how long someone can be held in an immigration detention centre. The UK is the only European country without such a time limit.
Britain has also declined to support recommendations on the detention of children in immigration centres.
David Isaac, on behalf of the National Human Rights Institutions, warned the UN that the post-Brexit landscape threatens a further deterioration in standards. Although historically Britain has been a champion of human rights, “That reputation is now under threat, due to the negative tone of debate from some politicians and many parts of the media around the Human Rights Act, and the potential risk to people’s equality and human rights protections when the UK leaves the European Union,” he said.
“The international human rights system provides greater protection for those rights, but the UK government’s continued refusal to fully incorporate the UN treaties it has signed shows scant regard for its international commitments. We are disappointed by the lack of leadership on human rights across the UK government.”
The Human Rights Consortium Scotland joined together with other civil society organisations, including the British Institute of Human Rights, Together and Just Fair, to also express disappointment at the government’s position. Sanchita Hosali, acting director of the British Institute of Human Rights, said:
“If the UK is to maintain its stance as a global champion of rights, we must welcome and embrace scrutiny of our human rights record here at home. It is disappointing that our government is only willing to support 42% of the UPR recommendations, and certainly does not compare favourably with other countries.”
The Scottish Government will shortly publish a separate response to the UN recommendations which many organisations hope will be more positive and progressive. The Scottish Human Rights Commission urged the Scottish Government to continue to ‘show leadership’ on human rights.
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