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.

Human Rights Concerns After Failed Coup

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Many leaders and commentators have voiced concerns that human rights will not be upheld following the failed Turkish coup.

On 15th July, members of the Turkish military staged a coup in a bid to overthrow the government. Those involved in the coup took control of helicopters and attacked governmental buildings. A military jet was also used to bomb the Presidential residency.

It has been reported that there were over 100 fatalities and over 1,000 injured in the attacks.

Following the surrender of the insurgents, there has been a widespread concern for human rights.

The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced that those involved in the coup would face a heavy price for their act of treason.

Since then there have been over 7,000 arrests. Although the vast majority of those arrested are suspected to be soldiers involved in the uprising, there have also been arrests of judges and prosecutors suspected to be involved.

Over 7,000 police officers and bureaucrats have also been suspended.

Diplomats and leaders from the EU, UK and USA have been publically stated that Turkey must protect the Human Rights of the people suspected of involvement and that democracy must be upheld.

The U.S Secretary of State and former Democratic Presidential nominee, John Kerry, said, “This is no excuse to take the country away from fundamental rights and the rule of law, and we will be extremely vigilant on that.”

Boris Johnson, the UK’s new Foreign Secretary, stated, in that the British Foreign Office was in “what Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service calls ‘crisis mode.”

There are fears that Human Rights will not be upheld in the wake of such an attempt to overthrow the government. There are even fears that the death penalty could be reintroduced.

Although Turkey is not a member of the European Union, and therefore not bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, there are a host of international treaties and laws that aim to protect the Human Rights of all citizens.

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.


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.

Human rights law news & legal updates to follow

human-rights-legal-news-updatesHuman Rights Comment aims to bring you human rights law news & legal updates. A body of international law, international human rights law is designed to protect human rights at social,regional, and domestic levels.

International human rights law is incorporated into law at a national level by the government of the country.

The main international human rights bodies are:

African Union – this is a union of the 53 African countries. The aims of this organisation are to facilitate trade and co-operation between the African nations. It also seeks to improve the protections for human rights across African.

European Union – the Council of Europe is based in Strasbourg, France. The European Convention of Human Rights sets out the human rights which must be protected in law by all of the European states. The United Kingdom gives effect to the European Convention of Human Rights through the Human Rights Act.

United Nations Human Rights Council – this organisation seeks to improve human rights protections throughout the world.

Organization of American States – this body aims to promote peace and security throughout the American continent.