Human rights

Plaid Cymru MP calls for Welsh Human Rights Bill to counter Westminster ‘attacks’

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The leader of Plaid Cymru in Westminster, Liz Saville Roberts. Photo UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Plaid Cymru leader in Westminster, MP Liz Saville Roberts, has criticized plans by the UK Government to abolish the Human Rights Act and called for a Welsh Human Rights Bill to “counter the attacks of Westminster”.

MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd said the Bill introduced by Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab in the House of Commons today showed a ‘callous disregard for the essential universality of human rights’ and called on the Welsh Government to speed up plans to enshrine human rights law in Welsh law.

The Welsh government has previously said it will “explore the incorporation of UN conventions into Welsh law, which could potentially lead to a Welsh Bill of Rights”.

Speaking in the House of Commons, she said: “The UK Government’s abandonment of the Human Rights Act not only shows a callous disregard for the essential universality of human rights, but also for decentralization in Wales.

“The Human Rights Act is directly linked to the constitutional settlement of Wales. Changes to the Act will undermine our efforts to promote human rights and equality.

“When, not if, Wales withholds legislative consent to this erosion of human rights, will it use legalistic bullying tactics to trample on our democracy as well?”

Mr. Raab replied: “No, of course not, Mr. President.”


Speaking after the session, Ms Saville Roberts added: “The Conservative government at Westminster is becoming increasingly brazen in its attacks on our fundamental rights.

“It is vital that in response to these attacks we embark on a program to strengthen the human rights framework in Wales, as is happening in Scotland.

“The Welsh Government should urgently create a Welsh Bill of Rights which incorporates international human rights law more directly.

“This must be done alongside the full devolution of justice so that we can uphold, better enforce and develop universal human rights in Wales.”

Common sense

Mr Raab, the UK government’s justice secretary, told the House of Commons that a UK bill of rights will “restore a healthy dose of common sense” to the justice system.

He also sought to reassure members that the UK will not walk away from the European Convention on Human Rights, an international agreement that underpins human rights law as well as peace in Ireland. North.

Mr Raab introduced the bill after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg disrupted the UK government’s controversial policy on asylum seekers arriving without permission.

The Justice Secretary wants the successor to the Human Rights Act to say that UK courts do not always need to follow Strasbourg case law and that the Supreme Court in London is the ultimate decision-maker on matters of human rights.

He told MPs: “Our bills of rights will strengthen our proud tradition of freedom, they will delineate a clearer separation of powers.

“It will ensure greater respect for our democratic institutions, it will better protect the public and bring a healthy dose of common sense to the justice system, which is essential to gaining the public’s trust.

“Ultimately it will make us freer, it will help keep our streets safer.

“We will strengthen the separation of powers in this country, affirming the supremacy of the Supreme Court, being explicit that UK courts are not bound to follow Strasbourg case law and are indeed free to deviate from it.”

State party

But Mr Raab said the UK “intends to remain a state party” to the European Convention on Human Rights.

He added: “The problems we have encountered are due to elastic interpretations and the expansion of meaningful democratic control that is absent, in particular due to the procedural framework set out in the Human Rights Act.”

The main aims of the reform, he said, are to ‘reinforce such quintessential UK-wide rights as freedom of speech’, adding ‘we will also recognize the role of jury trial’ .

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