On 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.