Peers urged to change Brexit Bill to protect rights

With key votes coming up on Brexit, SCVO and the Human Rights Consortium Scotland have written to members of the House of Lords to ask them to change the UK Government’s plans to reduce our rights’ protections post-Brexit.

Peers will vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill beginning today (18th April).  Within this Bill are controversial plans to do away with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.  The UK Government claims that this will in effect not lessen our legal rights but many, including the Equality and Human Rights Commission and many human rights organisations and legal practitioners, state that that is simply not true.

Mhairi Snowden, Coordinator of the Human Rights Consortium Scotland, said:

 ‘More than 150 civil society signatories of the Scotland Declaration on Human Rights agree that our rights must not be watered down.

We are very concerned however, that the EU Withdrawal Bill does just that.  Rather than simply transferring EU law into UK law, it takes the extraordinary step of leaving out a key plank of legal rights.

We urge peers to listen to the voice of many across civil society in Scotland and amend the Bill to protect our rights.

The Brexit process is so fast and complex that this is no place or time to be tinkering with our hard-won rights protections.’

John Downie, Director of Public Affairs at SCVO said:

‘Since the vote to leave the EU was announced, Scotland’s third sector have been concerned that current, hard-won rights and protections could be lost.

‘Through the Scotland Declaration on Human Rights, civil society organisations have articulated what they expect from EU withdrawal and suggested the best way forward in protecting the rights we all enjoy.

‘We hope that Peers will heed the words of third sector organisations and make the necessary amendments to the legislation to secure our rights.’

SCVO and the Human Rights Consortium Scotland are also asking peers to support an amendment to enable the right to action on EU general principles.  They also want assurance that the UK Government will not use ‘delegated powers’ – regulations passed with minimal parliamentary scrutiny -to amend rights provisions.

 

The Civil Society Brexit Project – a partnership between the Human Rights Consortium Scotland and SULNE (Scottish Universities Legal Network on Europe) who are academic experts on EU law – has published new comprehensive guides for civil society on the likely impact of Brexit on different types of rights.  These briefings provide up-to-date accessible information about the ins and outs of Brexit and are essential reading for anyone interested in this area in civil society in Scotland.

Maria Fletcher, director of SULNE and senior lecturer of European Law at Glasgow University, said:

‘We can all feel a bit baffled by Brexit because the process is very fast and complex. That’s why the Civil Society Brexit Project has published a range of new briefings to make sure that organisations have the information that they need to understand the process and the potential implications of Brexit.’

These briefings are available at www.hrcscotland.org/brexit

 

 

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