Published: 14 Jan 2018
A group of more than 20 organisations and human rights legal experts has signed an open letter on the importance of the Charter of Fundamental Rights ahead of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill returning to Parliament this week. The letter was published in the Observer.
The EU (Withdrawal) Bill – returning to the House of Commons this week – will not protect people’s rights in the UK as the Government promised. This is in large part because the Bill removes the Charter of Fundamental Rights from our law.
The Charter protects rights important to all of us: including rights to dignity, protection of personal data and health; and protections for workers, women, children, and older people, LGBTI and disabled people.
The Government’s analysis of the Charter repeats its assurance that rights will not be weakened following Brexit. However, independent legal advice shows this to be wrong.
Losing it creates a human rights hole because the Charter provides some rights and judicial remedies that have no clear equivalents in UK law.
Furthermore, by keeping the wide and complex body of EU law while throwing away the Charter which is the code to unlock it, the Government risks creating confusion, jamming itself in a mountain of legal cases.
Rights without remedies are just symbols. We need legal guarantees in the Bill about the kind of society we want to be after Brexit. For the Government to honour its promise of preserving existing rights it must retain the protections in the Charter.
Adam Wagner, Barrister
Amnesty International UK
British Institute of Human Rights
Children's Rights Alliance for England
Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
Equality and Diversity Forum
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES)
Jonathan Cooper OBE
National Aids Trust
National Alliance of Women's Organisations (NAWO)
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
Schona Jolly QC
Scottish Human Rights Commission
UK Race and Europe Network
UK Women’s Budget Group
Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children