New Together briefings on Brexit

Date: 17th November 2017
Category: Other human rights treaties and mechanisms, General measures of implementation

Together has been continuing its work on Brexit and its implications for children's rights protection.

Following Together's recently published research on Brexit and its impact on Cross Border Law, two new briefings have been produced on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill that is currently at the Committee Stage at Westminster. Together's focus has been on the many amendments of the Bill which have been tabled, particularly the amendments relating to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and those relating to the role of the devolved parliaments and ministers after Brexit.

Briefing on the Withdrawal Bill and the Charter of Fundamental Rights

This briefing considers the UK Government's claims that removing the Charter will not affect the rights of individuals living in the UK as the rights it contains can be found elsewhere. As the briefing explains, the Charter goes further than other human rights instruments and introduces new and innovative provisions to protect human rights, as well as others which have broader scope than similar protections elsewhere. Whilst certain rights are protected both within the Charter and other human rights treaties (such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child), the UK has not incorporated many of these other treaties into domestic law, therefore a violation of the rights they contain cannot be brought before a UK or Scottish court. The briefing considers the Bill's attempts to block challenges to retained law on the basis that it is incompatible with the general principles of EU law (including fundamental rights). This is a further area where the Withdrawal Bill weakens current human rights protection.

Briefing on the Withdrawal Bill, devolution and children's rights

This briefing discusses how, in its current form, the Withdrawal Bill states that all powers returning to the UK from Brussels shall be centralised at Westminster/Whitehall. This shall remain the case unless and until they are transferred on to the devolved parliaments and ministers. This is particularly relevant from a children's rights perspective as, in Scotland, there are several mechanisms which ensure a higher standard of child rights-based scrutiny than is currently available at UK level. These mechanisms include the Part 1 duties under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, the use of Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments (CRWIAs), the interaction between the Scotland Act and the Human Rights Act, and the progressive approach taken in Scotland's Programme for Government 2017-18. If returning powers are held at Westminster/Whitehall then it will not be possible to benefit from these Scottish mechanisms.

Together would also like to highlight the work of other organisations in this area.

For more detailed coverage of the impact of Brexit from a child rights perspective see the UK Children and Brexit Coalition's discussion paper "Making Brexit work for children".