Human Rights Lawyer’s Concern Over Brexit

As the dust begins to settle on last month’s monumental vote to leave the European Union, neither Britain or the rest of Europe are any closer to knowing what the relationship between Britain and the EU will be.

Many people are also questioning what Human Rights protections will be in place when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

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Shortly after the result of the vote was clear, David Cameron announced his decision to step down as Prime Minister. He had supported a Remain vote and with his newly negotiated EU deal for the UK failing to convince the electorate to stay in the EU, many felt he had no choice but to resign.

This sparked a Tory leadership race, but due to various factors the contest did not go to the Tory membership and Theresa May was elected leader of the party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

However, many commentators are concerned about Mrs May’s past record on Human Rights. May is one of the longest serving Home Secretaries of recent times and supported repealing the Human Rights Act.

The Guardian has reported that Theresa May said, “It isn’t the EU we should leave but the ECHR [European court of human rights] and the jurisdiction of its courts.”

Martha Spurrier, a Human Rights lawyer who works for Liberty, has urged Theresa May to keep the Human Rights Act.

The Human Rights Act provides basic protections to all and helps to ensure that the most vulnerable, including those who are detained whilst seeking refugee status in the UK.

Like so many aspects of unwinding decades European Union legislation, there is no way of knowing what the future will hold.

Impact of Brexit on UK Human Rights

european flagOn Thursday 23rd June, British voters voted to leave the European Union by a slim majority. This has left many people wondering about the implications that Brexit will have upon human rights law in the UK. In this post, we aim to explore the potential human rights impact of Brexit.

All European Union member states must protect in law the human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, commonly referred to as the ECHR. The Convention sets out various human rights, including:

Article 2 – every citizen’s right to life must be protected.

Article 3 – the banning of torture and degrading treatment.

Article 4 – citizens are protected from servitude and forced labour.

Article 6 – all citizens must be given the right to a fair and impartial trial.

Article 7 – no retroactivity. This means that citizens cannot be punished or criminalised for acts that were not against the law at the time they were committed.

Article 10 – all citizens will have freedom of expression.

Article 11 – freedom of association.

Article 12 – freedom of marriage.

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The UK’s protections for human rights are likely to follow the human rights protections that are already recognised and protected under European Union law. The UK currently gives effect to the ECHR through the Human Rights Act 1998.

However, as no nation has ever split from the European Union before, there is no way of knowing what the true implications will be. Once Article is triggered by the British government, a two-year negotiation on the terms of separation will begin. No matter what progress has been made in the negotiations, Britain would leave the European Union at the end of the two-year period.

Look out for future posts where we bring you the latest on the human rights implications of Britain’s exit from the EU.