Over 50 civil society organisations from across Northern Ireland – including CAJ – have written to the First and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland to challenge the circumstances that led to the recent suspension of the Ad-Hoc Committee on a Bill of Rights.
In an open letter, sent today (on International Human Rights Day), the organisations express grave concern at the blockage of progress and call for action by the UK and Irish Government to end the political veto on human rights in Northern Ireland.
The letter is available here.
The Ad-Hoc Committee, which was set up to progress work towards a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, is comprised of MLAs from the five main political parties in Northern Ireland. It began work in March 2020 after being included as a commitment in the New Decade, New Approach agreement brokered by the British and Irish governments to restore the Assembly. The terms of reference for the committee were to consider the creation of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland – a long outstanding commitment from the Belfast /Good Friday Agreement of 1998.
At a 25th November sitting of the committee, it was revealed that a DUP submission to the process exposed that, in contrast to the other parties represented, they did not believe that there should be a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland and that the process should instead look at developing a set of values and principles. Following this revelation and the continued failure to appoint a Panel of Experts to support the work of the Committee, the Chairperson and other Members of the Committee agreed to suspend its work.
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