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ERG presents submission to Westminster on human rights

Equality Rights has made a submission to the House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into the impact of Brexit on human rights. Concerned with human and civil rights in Gibraltar, the group emphasised, there were no more paramount rights issues for ERG than those surrounding the exercise of self-government.

“They impact on all other sovereign rights,” said a statement and in this context they have entrusted to the Committee the question as to “whether Brexit is going to present a suitable and convenient reason, if not excuse, for delay on human and civil rights matters pertinent to Gibraltar”.

The Group said terms of submissions to Parliamentary Committees disallowed them from making the text publicly available.

But the group’s Chairman Felix Alvarez said they were nevertheless not precluded from informing the public in general terms of their work.

The ERG, he said, felt a duty to the public to be as transparent as possible in our projects.

Mr Alvarez said the concern centred on the manner in which the 2006 Gibraltar Constitution’s intentions settle provisions for the People of Gibraltar with a maximum level of self-governance.

“Given that Brexit has been the expression of a majority of British citizens to reclaim an optimum of own-control over their governance, we have asked the Committee to consider whether, in effect, this aligns or not with current policies and procedures applied to Gibraltar in requiring prior agreement or approval for extension of international laws to the Rock, too. It may be held that such pre-existing approval requirements may conflict with the original intentions of the Westminster Parliament in approving our present Constitutional ‘maximum self-government’ framework. Especially when such measures carry no consequence other than domestically applicable,” said Mr Alvarez.

“Within the considerations we have laid on the table for the Committee are two specific examples: the 25 year delay on extension of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Gibraltar Government recently confirmed to us is now ready for extension as far as we in Gibraltar are concerned, and the ratification of the ‘Istanbul Convention’, which is the Council of Europe’s Convention On Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. In the latter case, the fact that the UK has not, as yet, decided to ratify the Convention should, if ‘maximum self-governance’ is the intent underlying the 2006 Gibraltar Constitution, not be a hindrance or impediment for Gibraltar itself to be able do so.”

Mr Alvarez acknowledges there are subtle and intricate legal considerations to be had in this regard.

And added that nonetheless in its submission the ERG was urging the Parliamentary Committee to apply its consideration to amendments to the UK’s Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 which provides for legal procedures in the management of Treaties and Conventions and to the administration of policies which could be amended and improved in order to facilitate greater self-governance on the part of Gibraltar in these respects.

In this regard they have also submitted that it may be important for the matter to be considered “in due course” by any Gibraltar Parliamentary Committee which may deliberate to consider recommendations for further constitutional reform.