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11 / 12 / 2008 - Human Rights Commission fails to protect rights of unborn children in Northern Ireland
Precious Life has accused the Human Rights Commission of “sheer hypocrisy” for failing to include the right to life of unborn children in their final report for a Bill of Rights. Precious Life had a long running campaign calling on the Commission to ensure the human rights of unborn babies were protected. The pro-life group has now called on the Head of the Commission to resign.
The Human Rights Commission presented its advice on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland [Download PDF] to the Minister of State Paul Goggins MP on Wednesday 10 December.
In the foreword of the document, the Chief Commissioner Monica McWilliams states,
‘…. A democratic society must respect the human rights of all, if it is to be worthy of that name ….A Bill of Rights must be applicable to everyone …a Bill of Rights should [be] a point of reference for future generations …On this, the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is fitting to recall the words of its opening statement, that “the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. These values apply globally and locally and are the principles upon which the advice on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland is founded.’
Director of Precious Life Bernadette Smyth said this was hypocrisy - “Monica McWilliams’ foreword is littered with expressions of ‘human rights for all’. But the sheer hypocrisy of the Human Rights Commission is exposed when they recommend to the Government that the right to life of unborn children should not be included in the Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, claiming it would be ‘inappropriate’. ”
Bernadette Smyth added, “In a sinister move, the Commission has ‘passed the buck’ to the pro-abortion CEDAW Committee of the United Nations. CEDAW is obsessed with abortion and has a long history of bullying countries where abortion is illegal or restricted. In July, Precious Life condemned CEDAW for trying to 'bully' Northern Ireland into legalising abortion.”
On page 116 of their document, the Human Rights Commission state ‘…in respect of a right to life for unborn children …There is no clear widely accepted international standard in respect of the underlying issues. …The Commission has, therefore, concluded that it would be inappropriate for it to suggest that the matter can be resolved by a Bill of Rights. …The Commission recommends that the Government responds to the concluding observations of the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.’
Bernadette Smyth said the Human Rights Commission was wrong to claim there is no “widely accepted international standard” of the issues. She said, “One of the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world - the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - states clearly: 'The child …deserves special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, BEFORE as well as after birth.' The Human Rights Commission has denied any protection or safeguards for a child before birth.”
“And even if there was no ‘international standard’ on the right to life of unborn children, why didn’t the Human Rights Commission seize the opportunity and create one in the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights, which they want to be ‘a point of reference for future generations’ ”
Bernadette Smyth concluded, “Every human being possesses the same basic rights and foremost amongst them is the right to life itself – for on that, all other rights depend. The Human Rights Commission has failed in its remit to ensure the human rights of all – including unborn children - are fully and firmly protected in law, policy and practice. Monica McWilliams is not worthy of the name of Human Rights Chief Commissioner and should resign immediately.”