Advertise On EU-Digest

Annual Advertising Rates


Britain: Scared about your human rights after Brexit? You should be - by Schona Jolly

There was a time, not so long ago, that David Davis was a great fan of the EU charter of fundamental rights. He liked it so much that he used it to take up a legal challenge against the snooper’s charter (brainchild of the-then home secretary Theresa May), which ended up in Luxembourg.

How times change. Yesterday’s draft repeal bill sees Davis knocking out the protection of the charter on the day that we exit the EU. That means a whole swath of rights and protections will be lost to British citizens if it goes through unamended. It’s true that we will still have the rights inherent in the European convention on human rights (ECHR), but the two frameworks are different. While there is some overlap, the EU charter takes up a gamut of protections which are increasingly important in our fast-evolving society.

Take the right to data protection, which Davis relied on with deputy Labour leader Tom Watson for the challenge (until Davis withdrew from the case) leading to the European court of justice ruling against the general and indiscriminate retention of emails or electronic communications by government, with serious implications for the snooper’s charter. Or take the protection of children’s rights, or the freestanding right to equality. As with every argument when human rights treaties are involved, it’s always worth digging to see precisely which rights people are comfortable about losing.

 Although May has declared her commitment to workers’ rights, her record on human rights is chequered. Meanwhile, the government’s position is dubious. The parliamentary joint committee of human rights expressed serious concern about the government’s approach to safeguarding individuals’ fundamental rights post-Brexit, other than those protected under the ECHR. It noted that the government “seemed unacceptably reluctant to discuss the issue of human rights after Brexit. The minister of state responsible for human rights was either unwilling or unable to tell us what the government saw as the most significant human rights issues.” Meanwhile the UN high commissioner for human rights recently issued strong words against May’s call for human rights to be overturned if they were to “get in the way” of the fight against terror”.

Rights don’t often seem as though they matter, until they do. By then, it might be too late. 

Read more: Scared about your human rights after Brexit? You should be | Schona Jolly | Opinion | The Guardian

No comments: