This Good Friday take a moment to save the Human Rights Act
On Good Friday eighteen years ago something rather amazing happened. An agreement was signed that brought to an end decades of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. Now the UK Government is proposing to scrap the Human Rights Act and threaten its very core.
When the historic Good Friday Agreement was written in 1998, its authors made sure that the words 'human rights' ran through it like stick of seaside candy rock.
At its heart was the promise that the injustices of Northern Ireland's past would be banished forever and that the European Convention on Human Rights would become part of domestic law and made a cornerstone of decision-making by all public authorities, including the police.
The promise was delivered by the Human Rights Act of the same year and major changes in policing that followed.
Eighteen years on and that keystone of peace is under threat from the UK government, which has vowed to repeal the Act and replace with a British Bill of Rights.
The policing arrangements introduced in Northern Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement are heavily reliant on adherence to the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights. Trust in these structures in post-Troubles Northern Ireland is seen as one of the key success stories of the peace process – but public confidence can be eroded and undermined just as surely as it can be built, and scrapping the Human Rights Act could have serious implications for the peace settlement.
When the new government came to power in May 2015, the directors of our UK and Ireland offices joined forces to write to their respective governments – the joint guarantors of the Agreement. In their letter, Kate Allen and Colm O'Gorman warned of the potential consequences of the Westminster government's proposed actions
Then earlier this month leading law firms Doughty Street Chambers in London and KRW Law in Belfast underlined the significance of the threat scrapping the Human Rights Act has to the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement – outlining the ways in which it could be breached by the proposal.
If the Good Friday Agreement is to make it to its nineteenth anniversary with promised human rights protections still in place, the UK government must commit to saving the Human Rights Act.
This Good Friday, please stand up for peace and call on Gove to save the Human Rights Act. Sign our petition now
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.