Wednesday, 27 April 2016 05:20

SNP challenge UK Government divisions

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 The Scottish National Party has today challenged the UK government on its divided approach and flip-flopping commitment to human rights, and its continued failure to publish its long-delayed consultation on human rights law reform.

 Joanna Cherry QC MP, the SNP spokesperson on Justice and Home Affairs, questioned the UK government at today’s House of Common’s Justice Questions on why Tory Ministers were giving mixed messages on whether or not the UK government was planning to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as part of its controversial plans to reform UK human rights law.
 The SNP and the Scottish Government are strongly opposed to UK government plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and any proposal to withdraw from the ECHR. The UK government has repeatedly delayed its planned consultation on reforming UK human rights law, while Senior Cabinet Ministers have given conflicting positions on whether the UK should leave the ECHR – with Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday arguing we should leave the ECHR but stay in the EU, while Justice Secretary Michael Gove has previously said we should stay in the ECHR but leave the EU.
 The SNP say that Human Rights are a devolved matter and that the UK government must not attempt to scrap the Human Rights Act or take Scotland out of the ECHR without the agreement of the Scottish Parliament. An SNP Scottish Government and SNP MSPs would oppose any such move, which the SNP argues would be detrimental to human rights in the UK and would send out the message to countries with a worse human rights record that they can pick and choose which international human rights obligations they follow.
 Respected legal, equality and human rights sector organisations in Scotland have joined growing criticism of the UK government plans to scrap the Human Rights Act. In February, the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, and Amnesty were among those organisations that made written submissions to the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee Human Rights Inquiry criticising the plans.
 Commenting, Joanna Cherry QC MP said:
 “The UK government must stop flip-flopping and either ditch its damaging plans to scrap the Human Rights Act or finally bring forward its long-delayed proposals for reform.
 “These are our fundamental rights as citizens of this country and it is utterly unacceptable that after many months of prevarication and mixed-messages the UK government still cannot tell us what its plans are or whether it intends to force Scotland out of the European Convention on Human Rights against our will.
 “Human rights are a devolved matter in Scotland. The Scottish Government and Parliament must be consulted on any proposals to scrap the Human Rights Act or to take Scotland out of the ECHR.
 “If the SNP wins a majority in the Scottish Parliament elections, and is re-elected to the Scottish Government, there is zero chance that Scotland will ever give permission for this Tory attack on our fundamental human rights to go ahead. If the UK government were to plough ahead anyway it would provoke a constitutional crisis.”