Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt and Council General, Mick Antoniw on the UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Act.
Today in the Senedd, the Welsh Government, supported by Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats, condemned the UK Government for their assault on human rights.
Ministers blasted the UK Government on three key pieces of their legislation which they branded as callous, unconstitutional and in complete opposition to Welsh values and the founding principles of the Senedd.
Ministers also outlined a bold new plan to release Welsh specific UN reports and explore a Welsh Bill of Rights.
Counsel General Mick Antoniw said:
“People should be under no illusion, the UK Governments actions clearly demonstrate a calculated effort to undermine all of our basic human rights.
We are meeting in the shadow of the war in Ukraine, we would hope to be standing foursquare with the UK Government on human rights at this time, that is simply not possible.
Their proposals give only the signal to the world that the UK is backtracking on human rights. Their efforts seek to erode not strengthen.
If these proposals are carried into law, they would weaken the rights of all UK citizens, it would reduce access to justice and target the most vulnerable people in our society, including disabled people and those in poverty.
The proposals also seek to distinguish between “deserving” and “undeserving” people or cases, which strikes at the heart of the principle that human rights should apply equally to everyone.”
Reaffirming the Welsh Government’s commitment to Human Rights and being a Nation of Sanctuary, Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said:
“We have made our opposition to these Bills abundantly clear on numerous occasions and in the strongest terms. They are entirely incompatible with the values we hold dear in Wales.
The United Nations is right in what they say on the Nationality and Borders Act in particular. 5 independent UN Experts have issued the most grave and heart-wrenching warning. They state that the Act would seriously undermine the protection of trafficked persons, including children. It would allow women who have experienced gender based violence to be turned away rather than seek sanctuary. UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons Siobhán Mullally said this was ‘…in violation of international law’.”
Finally, the Minister for Social Justice and Counsel General committed to a detailed plan of action which will explore incorporating UN Conventions into Welsh law which could potentially lead to a Welsh Bill of Rights.
“If the UK Government continue down this destructive and harmful path, the Welsh Government would like to consider the potential scope of what could be achieved through a Bill in Wales.
The purpose of such a Bill would be to strengthen human rights and mitigate as far as possible the negative impacts of actions by the UK Government.
We will also, for the first time, publish our own response to the United Nations on how we have furthered rights in Wales. This will be a significant step and demonstrates how gravely we take our responsibilities and commitments."