Joint Committee On Human Rights Sixth Report


Making a Case

36. In April 2002, we took evidence from the Lord Chancellor. He assured us that the Government's mind still remained open on the question of the establishment of a human rights commission, but he noted that it was not—

... sufficient simply to assert a need [for a human rights commission]—you have to make a good argument; you have to promote a case.[28]

We agree.

The Case in Principle

Advocates of a Commission

37. During the passage through Parliament of the Human Rights Bill in Session 1997-98, a number of proposals were moved to incorporate provisions for an independent human rights commission to be established.[29] Baroness Amos, a former chief executive of the Equal Opportunities Commission (and not at the time a Minister), argued that—

We need a body which will raise public awareness, promote good practice, scrutinise legislation, monitor policy developments and their impact, provide independent advice to Parliament and advise those who feel that their rights have been infringed. I am particularly keen to see the promotion of an inclusive human rights culture which builds on the diversity of British society. That would be a key role for any human rights body to play.[30]

Baroness Williams of Crosby believed that—

The great advantage of a Human Rights Commission or Commissioner is that it would make human rights open to the public, it would encourage the public to own human rights in a way that would not be exclusive either to Parliament or to the legal profession but should be the beginning of a real and profound change in the democratic ethos and sense of freedom in this country ... I (also) believe the training and education of public bodies is just as important as the establishment of case law¼.I fear that, for failure to train them in what the Bill means, we shall see a great deal of litigation that is unnecessary, expensive, slow, tedious and repetitive.[31]

Lord Woolf, then Master of the Rolls, had expressed the belief outside Parliament that—

The most important benefit of a Commission is that it will assist in creating a culture in which human rights are routinely observed without the need for continuous intervention by the courts. Human rights will only be a reality when this is the situation.[32]

38. The Human Rights Act received the Royal Assent on 9 November 1998. The concerns expressed during the passage of the Act continue to be expressed after it was brought into force on 2 October 2000—

¼ at the moment, whilst in certain middle class environments there may be a debate about human rights, on the ground where it really matters people do not talk about their "human rights"; they do not understand them; there is no concept of them, and that culture will only come about if there is dedicated activity which delivers that ¼ Unless we get that, frankly all we have are nice fine words and nice fine statutes.[33]

A Human Rights Commission could make an unique contribution to advancing a human rights culture in the United Kingdom by initiating or contributing to programmes of education and training ... Otherwise there is a danger that the media will become the key focus for providing such information; information that above all else requires a level of objectivity that is not conducive to selling newspapers or raising viewing figures.[34]

We've all got the poster about the [Human Rights] Act on the wall but there's no one telling us what it means for the people whom we represent.[35]

¼Without a body that has the powers and the resources to raise awareness about human rights in the first place, and that is able to back that up with the power to take action in support of individuals and groups who are suffering human rights violations, we do not believe human rights will really come alive as a meaningful factor in most people's relationships with public authorities.[36]

Without a Human Rights Commission, it is likely that the UK's conception of human rights will be an impoverished one. The Human Rights Act will be viewed narrowly, as a legalistic document to be developed primarily through litigation. In the absence of a Human Rights Commission, the great opportunity presented by the Human Rights Act may be missed.[37]

What would a Human Rights Commission look like?

39. The UN has agreed a set of advisory principles for the establishment of independent national human rights bodies (the "Paris Principles") which suggest that a national human rights institution should have the following functions—

  • to publish and/or submit to the Government, Parliament and any other competent body proposals and reports on any matters concerning the promotion and protection of human rights;

  • to consider judicial, legislative or administrative provisions and make such recommendations to ensure that these conform to the fundamental principles of human rights;

  • to recommend measures to improve conformity with human rights;

  • to report on the national situation with regard to human rights in general, and on more specific matters including any violation of human rights which it decides to take up and to propose initiatives for putting an end to such situations;

  • to promote and ensure the harmonisation of national legislation, regulations and administrative practices with the provisions of international human rights instruments;

  • to encourage ratification of international human rights instruments and to ensure their implementation;

  • to contribute to the reports which States are required to submit to international human rights bodies pursuant to their treaty obligations;

  • to co-operate with other national and international bodies on the promotion and protection of human rights;

  • to promote education and research relating to human rights;

  • to publicise human rights and efforts to combat all forms of discrimination, in particular racial discrimination, by increasing public awareness; especially through information and education and by making use of all press organs.[38]

40. The positive benefits that a commission might bring were captured in a compelling way by Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who told us—

When it comes to the integrity of human rights at the national level, [the things] I would place more emphasis on [are]: is it really accessible; is there an embedding of culture of human rights; does it matter in inner-city and rural areas; is there a sense that there is a body that can be looked to and gets around and reaches out in the way we do not expect, and should not expect, courts to do? Courts are there to apply individual justice and are accessible in that sense. I am talking about the more proactive engagement as a deepening of democracy...[39]

41. She further made clear that she considered the Paris Principles to be the minimum requirements for a human rights commission—the floor, rather than the ceiling, of any design.[40] The Lord Chancellor told us that he "had no quarrel" with the Paris Principles. They do not have any binding force in international law, and we take the functions they outline as a starting point in considering whether there is a case to be made for establishing a human rights commission. In this report we will be looking at the particular circumstances of the UK, assessing the level of need for an independent human rights commission, and looking at what functions and powers it may require to meet those needs. But it is instructive to look at the international context and the lessons we may learn from abroad.

Lessons from Abroad

42. In doing so, we have concentrated principally on a selection of independent human rights commissions of the Commonwealth. We have done so because their constitutional arrangements, legal systems and political cultures offer the most useful comparisons with the UK. Other members of the Council of Europe, which share our commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights and access to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, provide, for many constitutional and legal reasons, less easily transferable parallels.

43. The FCO's annual human rights reports recounts the many efforts the UK is taking to promote a culture of human rights internationally, including supporting the establishment of independent national human rights bodies elsewhere in the world.[41] Its Human Rights Project Fund supports the establishment and work of human rights commissions in several countries outside the UK.[42] The DfID's 2000-01 annual report, Realising human rights for poor people, also recognises the need to assist and develop human rights commissions, stating—

DfID will, when appropriate help these institutions to secure sustainable access to sufficient human and material resources and to maintain their independent and public role.[43]

44. It appears perhaps a little inconsistent that the Government is enthusiastic about supporting independent national human rights institutions abroad but hesitant about establishing one at home. There are good reasons for the Government to be consistent, especially as, as one NGO commented—

... the more international the role that the United Kingdom adopts, the more she submits herself to scrutiny by the international community. Without a functioning body to serve as an internal watchdog, the United Kingdom will stand to be openly criticised and possibly, embarrassed in the much larger global forum.[44]

In May 2002 we took evidence from Mary Robinson, then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and asked her why a country like the UK might benefit from an independent human rights commission. She responded—

... I have become convinced that we can do a great deal more even in countries that have a strong system of justice and are serious about protecting human rights. I think we can in fact deepen the whole approach ... the establishment of independent, autonomous national institutions, the outreach of human rights, can be a very good way of reinforcing the protection of human rights; bringing home to people in a very different way that human rights do matter ... they support and they supplement basic institutions of democracy, because they are working with governments; they report to parliament; they are working with civil society; they are keeping the focus on human rights in that linking and linking the international human rights system with national protections ... they build bridges between government and civil society ... I think their role is very substantially educational. They educate by doing ... It is a strength to any country—even one that already has a mature system of support for human rights.[45]

45. The Chairman of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission, Professor Alice Tay, told us she had concluded that for many purposes, the common law tradition is too complicated, unreliable and expensive, and that legal decisions did not adequately express modern social needs. She believed that human rights jurisprudence needed an institution to translate it into concepts relevant to the daily lives of citizens, and that an independent human rights institution could provide that focus, because it would connect with the public by virtue of its independence from government and its status as a "straight dealer".

46. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has interpreted its mandate to advance equal opportunity broadly. The Human Rights laws (federal and in each province), the Equal Employment Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms all have a part to play in creating a culture of human rights in Canada. Surveys have consistently shown that the Charter enjoys a high level of support across the country.[46]

47. The Australian Commissioners also noted that although their government did not necessarily support everything the Commission said, it did express pride on the international stage about having such an institution. It knew that its international reputation was enhanced by having an established human rights commission.

48. In India, we heard much the same message. The National Human Rights Commission was active in bringing questions of violations of rights set by international standards onto the political agenda. It was able to generate a focal point for the discussion of issues like human trafficking. It also was seen as providing an alternative for people who do not understand the legal process. Commissioners were very eloquent about the need to build a political culture in India that recognised human rights.

49. In New Zealand, we found a society which talked the language of rights as part of its mainstream political discourse much more readily. We were constantly told that New Zealand politics was a society in which the idea of equal dignity flourished, and which held the concept of justice for all very dear. But it was also recognised that these values were coming under pressure. Here too, we found very broad support for an organisation which stood aside from government, and engaged society in a debate about the practical expression of those values.

The Case in Practice: Unmet Needs

Spreading the Message in Public Authorities

50. We have also sought to examine the state of opinion in the UK. In September 2002 we published the oral and written evidence we had so far received in the course of our inquiry, in the form of an interim report.[47] Amongst those who responded there was overwhelming support in favour of the establishment of a human rights commission in the UK. Other submissions regretted that a commission had not been established when the Human Rights Act 1998 came into force in October 2000, or even earlier.

51. The Commission for Racial Equality observed that—

The Human Rights Act provides for a set of positive rights for individuals and has important constitutional implications; yet, there is no single body with overall responsibility for fostering a human rights culture or providing human rights education ¼ Thus, whilst human rights belong to everyone, knowledge is currently exclusive.[48]

Other public and voluntary sector bodies identified the same limitation—the lack of a driving force behind the Human Rights Act. The NGO JUSTICE commented—

This cultural change, and the process of embedding human rights guarantees within the UK constitutional and governmental structure, begins rather than ends with the coming into force of the Human Rights Act. The change the Act brings about, both directly, through the rights it incorporates, and indirectly, through the impact of rights as they filter through society, and the possibilities the Act opens up for the acceptance of other international human rights standards, requires continuing management. This is a large, long-term, permanent project, and one which only a Human Rights Commission can effectively and fully realise.[49]

Asked whether he had a sense that public authorities outside Whitehall had voluntarily taken on a positive duty to consider their service delivery from a human rights perspective, or were operating reactively, the Lord Chancellor commented—

Perhaps that is the case that you need to examine for a commission ... Really there is a limit to what the centre can do to encourage such a culture.[50]

52. In 2002 we invited a substantial number of public sector inspectorates, regulators and ombudsmen to tell us how the Act influenced their work. Their responses were published in our interim report. On the whole, they did not convince us that they saw it as part of their duty to foster a culture of human rights, or to incorporate human rights considerations in their approach to assessing the quality and equity of public authorities' service. We recognise that the extent to which these bodies can engage in human rights promotion and advice work is limited: many of the inspectorate bodies do not have advice functions and a number of the bodies surveyed have investigatory or adjudicatory functions but not more general promotional or advisory duties.[51] For example, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, though they regarded the establishment of a human rights culture within the police force as part of their concern, did not see the provision of advice as within their remit.[52]

53. For some of these bodies, human rights formed part of the background to their work, but was not express in the standards which they applied.[53] For most of these organisations their human rights involvement was more reactive than actively promotional—a characteristic, it seems to us, of many public authorities and their regulators.[54] Some were conscious that resource and time constraints, as well as lack of specialist expertise, could limit their human rights role.[55]

54. In the inspectorates concerned with the state in its coercive, rather than enabling, roles, there was greater awareness of human rights issues. The supervisory organisations in the policing, prisons and mental health sectors all saw human rights as important grounding principles to the legislative framework or standards of good practice within which they inspected or adjudicated. The Police Complaints Authority regarded themselves as "intimately involved in human rights" and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary regarded themselves as concerned with the establishment of a "human rights culture".

55. The Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland was also active in offering advice and assistance on human rights matters to the police service, in training, and consultation. HM Inspectorate of Probation indicated that its 2003 inspection programme would give attention to the National Probation Service's compliance with human rights and action taken to develop a culture of rights amongst staff. The Chief Inspector noted that the extent of the Inspectorate's human rights work would be limited by time and resource constraints, and HM Inspectorate of Prisons for England and Wales also stated that it would—

... be greatly assisted by independent advice and support in translating [human rights] principles and obligations into our own operational context.[56]

The Mental Health Act Commission viewed Convention rights and mental health legislation as "inextricably bound", and considered that the promotion of a human rights culture in the mental health field, and the provision of advice on human rights issues, was a core element of its work.

56. The evidence of these inspectorates would appear to underline the divide between the culture of the protection of rights (which is reasonably well-developed in public authorities) and the culture of the promotion of rights (which is largely undeveloped). JUSTICE identified serious limitations—

¼ the Home Office Human Rights Unit and NGOs, in particular those involved on the Home Office Task Force, were [at the time of implementation of the Human Rights Act] faced with a very large number of requests for advice, legal assistance, training and information materials. Although every effort was made to respond to this need, they lacked the considerable resources required to do so comprehensively. The result has been a general public that is largely either confused or unaware about human rights, a public sector that is not fully educated in its responsibilities, and a voluntary sector that has been left without sufficient support or assistance.[57]

57. A survey by District Audit published in 2002 found that the majority of local authorities and NHS Trusts had not reviewed their policies and procedures for compliance with the Human Rights Act, and 42% of health bodies had not taken action to raise staff awareness.[58] Few had mainstreamed human rights considerations into decision making, were monitoring compliance on an ongoing basis, or had acted to ensure that contractors providing services for them were taking reasonable steps to comply. Although some local authorities had embedded human rights within their Best Value process and within existing training and procedures, many complained of a lack of guidance and "staff felt that they were operating in a vacuum".

58. When we sought evidence from other inspectorates relating to local government service provision, we also found the attention given to human rights was inconsistent. The Social Services Inspectorate had prompted local authorities, prior to the coming into force of the Human Rights Act, to audit their social services policy and practice for human rights compliance and develop action plans for compliance with the Act, and had continued to monitor for this and encourage action to be taken. OFSTED, however, did not see human rights compliance as forming part of its inspection criteria, did not consider it part of its remit to promote human rights culture in the education sector, and had no plans to introduce human rights considerations into its work. Its equivalent body in Wales, ESTYN, though it did not currently make express reference to human rights in its work, had established a working group to consider the impact of new legislation including the Human Rights Act, and hoped to make reference to human rights in its revised guidance.

59. We commissioned research to look at the evidence of the development of a culture of human rights in public authorities, specifically local and health authorities.[59] We found that although the Human Rights Act is firmly established with health, local government and housing lawyers as a compliance issue, few public authorities have actually had to deal with meaningful challenges under the Act and the Convention. There is a clear understanding of the need to comply with the Act but little sense of the need for a human rights culture or culture of respect for human rights in their work.

60. Our research identified marked contrasts in the handling of human rights and racial equality matters in public authorities. Racial equality is being mainstreamed in public authorities; human rights matters are pigeonholed for the lawyers. Public authorities have more experience of dealing with race equality issues and have a clearer grasp of why such matters need to be addressed and how they should be tackled in policies, decisions and service delivery. A major driving force for rekindling this awareness is the new public sector 'duty to promote' racial equality contained in the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and the steps taken by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) to give this practical effect through the implementation of race equality schemes in public authorities.

61. By comparison, human rights have not take root in the wider public sector, other than as a compliance issue for the lawyers, because public authorities are not being encouraged or enabled to act in this area. There is no direct instruction in the implications of the Act nor any external pressure applied from supervising departments, regulators (save District Audit) or the courtroom to cause them to do this. There is no vision, no administrative framework and scant guidance reaching public authorities to tell them how a culture of respect for human rights might look or how it can be delivered.

62. Despite efforts by the Lord Chancellor's Department to disseminate a human rights message, virtually no examples of public authorities adopting a human rights culture or culture of respect for human rights in their work (other than in terms of legal compliance) were identified in our research. It is clear that, by and large, public authorities do not consider mainstreaming respect for human rights in their policies and practices a priority. We conclude that the Government's enthusiasm to make the Human Rights Act come alive as a measure which places positive duties on public authorities, and which should promote a culture of respect for human rights in every aspect of public life, needs to be forcefully promoted.

Hearing the Message: Clients of Public Authorities

63. The limitations on the effectiveness of the Lord Chancellor's Department's very small Human Rights Unit in promoting that culture has been substantially reinforced by other recent research conducted in connection with our inquiry. The British Institute of Human Rights, funded by the Comic Relief charitable trust, commissioned research in 2002 on the impact of the Human Rights Act on the voluntary sector in the first two years of its implementation. The report was published in December 2002.[60] The project was designed in part to provide this Committee with evidence.[61] The report identified a substantial need for greater effort and focus in the promotion of a culture of human rights throughout the public sector. Its main conclusion was—

... that the Government should establish an independent body capable of effectively promoting and protecting human rights ...

and that it—

... should seize the opportunity presented by the Single Equality Body Project to do this by creating an Equalities and Human Rights Commission.[62]

64. The report from the British Institute of Human Rights speaks for itself in the evidence it recounts of just how far some public authorities are from operating in a "culture of respect for human rights". We take just a selection of examples from its chapter on older people—

... a man in his 80s, in a nursing home, who needs assistance to get dressed, and uses a catheter. That man was made to sit with absolutely no clothes on in a double room with 5 members of staff, a mixture of male and female staff, for over 25 minutes whilst they took turns to do the bits that they needed to do, with the door wide open leading into the corridor ... he was just left sitting with absolutely no clothes on whatsoever in the middle of this congregation taking place around him, with people walking past the door. In the end the man messed himself, was then rolled over onto his side, whilst they proceeded to put a towel underneath him, and then wash him, on the bed, still with no attempt made to protect his dignity.

... two care workers were dealing with an elderly man who'd had a very serious brain trauma, but was still able to understand and communicate. These two individuals were talking over the head of this man about the possibility of providing him with physiotherapy, and one was saying to the other, "you wouldn't want to give him physio, look at the state he's in, he would lash out, it just wouldn't be worth it, why bother wasting time on him" ... he was being treated like a lump of meat. His feelings and his dignity were just being totally ignored.

... somebody needed to be discharged from hospital; she needed assistance 4 times a day, 7 days a week, and that included assistance out of bed, onto the commode, etc. She was mentally very alert, and the fact that she needed assistance didn't mean that she wasn't aware of her circumstances. The local authority decided that it couldn't afford to send somebody in 4 times a day, 7 days a week, they could only send somebody in 3 times. So the coercive argument put to her was, "if you want to come home and not into a residential home, then you have to come home with a package that means that we put you into an incontinence pad and you don't get your third visit, and you then sit there, wet in an incontinence pad, until somebody comes in the evening, and then changes the pad". And she's not incontinent. She has been asked to cooperate with something that was really, really undignified, or to go into a residential home.

The caller's 58 year old sister cares for her 74 year old husband and works full time. She cannot manage the "physical" care needed, though her husband receives some home care. He wants to go into residential care. The social worker came to reassess him but told him before doing the assessment that "the council has no money left for anything". Her suggestion was that the caller's sister and husband should contact Relate.

The caller's mother has been asked to leave her residential care home because she complained about a member of staff who would not attend to her in the night. She wanted to go to the toilet so she rang the buzzer but the staff member didn't come for about half an hour, by which time it was too late. The care worker left her in her wet night clothes, took the buzzer from her and threw it across the room.

The caller's mother is 89 and confined to bed. She has been assessed as needing residential care and is currently in respite care having developed bed sores after spending three weeks in bed prior to her admission. Her Social Services Department has refused to fund her care due to lack of resources. She has been told to leave the home tomorrow with a minimal care package of one hour each morning and evening - for the rest of the time she will remain in her bed. It is intended that incontinence pads will be provided for her to use when she wants to go to the toilet, although she is not incontinent.

The caller is a care worker in a residential care home. A resident was prescribed morphine as part of her palliative care. The home did not supply the medication and the resident died in pain, crying. No resident has their medical needs noted and many residents are not receiving the correct medication.

The caller's mother is resident in a care home. The caller noticed a few weeks ago that her mother's legs were very swollen and asked if the GP could be contacted in order to examine her. The manager said that the home's policy was that a GP would only be sent for if 5 residents required medical attention.

The caller is worried about her parents who are 85 and 79. They live in a Housing Association flat and have been told that it will be demolished. The consultation process has been very limited, with no information available about tenants' rights to challenge the plans. The caller's parents have been advised that they will not necessarily be re-housed in the same area. They were told that if they refused to move they will be taken to court and evicted by the police.

An agency worker told us about going into a home at breakfast time. She was instructed to get the residents up and onto their commode. She was then told to feed them breakfast. When she started to get the residents off their commodes first she was stopped. The routine of the home was that residents ate their breakfast while sitting on the commode and the ordinary men and women who worked there had come to accept this as normal.[63]

65. The report finds widespread evidence of violations of rights and overwhelming support for the establishment of a human rights commission—or for a similar sort of body that could promote and protect human rights. Those interviewed believe this would meet the need that currently exists for good quality advice, guidance and training on the Act itself. But, as importantly the evidence suggests, a commission would be able to promote the principles that underlie the legislation in a way that everyone can understand. The interviewee who gave the report its title is quoted as saying—

I think one thing is that people—the whole community—[isn't] aware of human rights as anything that's good for them ... It needs some publicity, it needs somebody to take it forward: it needs the dissemination of knowledge so that people realise what it's good for—and it's good for them. I think it's really important for them to know that they can use human rights. You know, it's something for everyone; it's for the good of the people.[64]

66. The report's summary notes—

Awareness of the Act has not in general spread outside the legal field. The absence of a human rights culture - or of even the first green shoots which might grow into a human rights culture—leaves a void. The Act is considered to be the domain of lawyers and legal policy staff: very few organisations used it systematically in their parliamentary lobbying or in their work with civil servants for example. Without more attention paid to the promotion of the Human Rights Act and the principles which lie behind it in a way that makes it accessible to lay people the vicious circle of unresponsive public services which lead to legal challenges cannot be broken.[65]

The report also finds that, while there are examples of good practice, the lack of any "ongoing concerted promotional strategy" for the Act means that staff who provide public services—in particular front line staff—fail to understand how the duty of public authorities to act in compliance with Convention rights translates into their responsibilities towards those with whom they work. It concludes—

 A Commission could have a key role, working in partnership with regulatory, training, and industry bodies, to demonstrate that the Act is not simply about legal challenges; rather, it gives all staff in the public sector a responsibility to promote and uphold human rights.[66]

67. The evidence collected in the BIHR inquiry also suggests that in general there is little or no understanding of the Act as a useful framework for public service providers where the rights of one individual may need to be balanced against the rights of others, perhaps leading to restrictions on rights which can be justified using the Act's concept of proportionality. Such a framework, the report concludes, could help public service workers to make difficult decisions about allocation of resources, or the protection of vulnerable people in their care, with more confidence. This leads to the conclusion that it is unfortunate that—

There is no single authoritative source of advice and information that could help to shape the development of a human rights culture in the absence of a Human Rights Commission. Important principles captured in case law are not, at present, applied across a wider area of work. This prevents the development of good practice. A Commission ... would also be able to give a lead—a visible lead—which is badly needed.[67]

68. The research that underpins Something for Everyone is based on individual experiences at the point where the state and its citizens, particularly those who are vulnerable for one reason or another, come into regular contact. It is here that we should be hoping to find evidence of the first green shoots of an emerging "culture of human rights". The report does not provide a statistical analysis of the prevalence of the problems it identifies. But where it looks for a developing culture it finds there is little evidence of its growth. How might one measure the growth of a culture of respect for human rights? The Minister responsible at the time told us in March 2002—

It is all very well to talk about this but how do we measure it? I cannot give you a precise answer and it would be wrong of me even to pretend to. What I can say is that we will know it when we see it and we will know if we are failing.[68]

On the basis of the evidence we have seen, we already know we are failing. The process of putting a culture of human rights at the heart of the work of public authorities needs to be reinvigorated if a consistent human rights message is to have a chance of reaching public authorities. These agents of the state cannot be expected to embrace a human rights culture that they do not know about.

28   Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Q 14 Back

29   See for example HL Deb., 27 November 1997, c 1151; 5 February 1998, c 820 Back

30   HL Deb., 24 November 1997, c 838 Back

31   HL Deb., 24 November 1997, cc 845 and 844 Back

32   Foreword to Spencer, S, and Bynoe, I, (1998) A Human Rights Commission, the Options for Britain and Northern Ireland, IPPR Back

33   Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Q 385 Back

34   Charter 88, ibid, Ev 123 Back

35   Head of policy at a leading advice agency, quoted in BIHR Newsletter, Summer 2002, Frances Butler Back

36   Children's Society, Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Ev 205 Back

37   JUSTICE, Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Ev 116 Back

38   Commission on Human Rights resolution 1992/54 of 3 March 1992, annex: General Assembly resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993, annex. The Principles are not binding in international law. The full text is set out in Annex A to this Report. Back

39   Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Q 73 Back

40   ibid, Q 74 Back

41   See eg Human Rights Annual Report for 2002, Cm 5601, p 73 Back

42   Projects supported since the Fund opened in April 1998 include: £166,000 to strengthen the capacity of the Nigerian Human Rights Commission to deliver on the promotion and protection of human rights; £38,000 for training of the National Human Rights Commission of India and 9 State Human Rights Commissions; £40,400 for computers for the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission; £363,636 to fund six UK delegates to attend the Ethiopian Parliament's Human Rights Conference which has the objective of identifying the best system of Human Rights Commission and Ombudsman for Ethiopia.  Back

43   Realising Human Rights for Poor People, Strategies for achieving the International Development Targets, October 2000, page 27, para 5.16 Back

44   The Aire Centre, Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Ev 142 Back

45   Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Q 72 Back

46   The National Post (of Toronto) reported on 4 February 2002, page A1: "Overall, the poll [undertaken by a company called Environics] suggests that Canadians are proud of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and see it as a unique and increasingly important symbol of national identity ¼ The poll found that the Charter got high ratings across the country, but especially in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Canadians in all social, economic and linguistic groups said the Charter plays a significant role in protection of individual rights ¼ Of those surveyed, 82% said the Charter has become an important symbol of Canadian identity ¼ ". Back

47   Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, The Case for a Human Rights Commission: Interim Report, HL Paper 160/HC 1142 Back

48   ibid., Ev 92 Back

49   JUSTICE, Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Ev 116 Back

50   Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Q 41 Back

51   Local Government Commission for England, Police Complaints Authority, Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Ev 234-236 and Ev 236-237 Back

52   See also the evidence of HM Inspectorate of Prisons (England and Wales), Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Ev 244-5 Back

53   e.g. HM Inspectorate of Prisons (England and Wales), Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, ibid Back

54   For example, the Local Government Commissioner for Wales saw its mandate to scrutinise for "maladministration" as limiting its capacity to assess expressly against human rights standards, though it was acknowledged that human rights breaches would generally amount to maladministration. The Commission for Local Administration in England indicated that where a complainant appeared to have a good legal case for breach of their human rights, the Commission would normally choose not to investigate, where "it would be reasonable to expect the complainant to use the legal remedy.", Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Ev 234. Back

55   HM Inspectorate of Probation, Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Ev 237-8 Back

56   Twenty-second Report, Session 2001-02, op cit, Ev 245 Back

57   ibid., Ev 116 Back

58   District Audit, The Human Rights Act. A Bulletin for Public Bodies, May 2002 Back

59   See Ev 250-284 Back

60   Something for Everyone: The Impact of the Human Rights Act and the Need for a Human Rights Commission, British Institute of Human Rights, 10 December 2002 Back

61   ibid., p 4 Back

62   ibid., p 7 Back

63   Something for Everyone, pp 47-49 Back

64   ibid., p 78 Back

65   ibid., Executive Summary, p 2 Back

66   ibid., p 10 Back

67   ibid., Executive Summary, p 3 Back

68   Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee on 21 March 2002, HL Paper 103-i/HC 719-i, Q 13 Back

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003
Prepared 19 March 2003