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NI Executive criticised by Council of Europe on language rights

16 Jan 2014

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has today responded to the Council of Europe report on the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.
The Commission has noted the criticism of the Northern Ireland Executive issued by the expert committee. The content of this report is wide ranging but the most concerning aspect is the Executive’s failure to provide any information or to engage with the examination process.
Interim Chair of the Commission’ John Corey stated:
“International treaties’ including the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages’ have been ratified by the UK Government. The examination of these treaties by the Council of Europe and the UN is crucial in order to protect the rights of everyone in Northern Ireland.
The failure of the Northern Ireland Executive to report on protecting language rights is indicative of a wider issue of concern to the Commission.
The Executive also failed to report to the UN Human Rights Council during its Universal Periodic Review in 2012 and failed to provide information on civil and political rights to the UN Human Rights Committee in 2013.
Both the UK Government and the UN have now openly criticised the Executive. They are joined today by the Council of Europe.
The Commission raised the issue of ongoing failures to report with the Committee of the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister yesterday.
This year’ the UN has singled Northern Ireland out and asked it to report on two specific issues. The Committee Against Torture has asked for a report on how the Past is being addressed. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has asked for a report on the issue of Termination of Pregnancy.
A failure by the Northern Ireland Executive to report on its obligations undermines the human rights of everyone in our society. The Commission calls upon Ministers to ensure a full engagement and to respond publicly when the Executive receives recommendations from international bodies.”
ENDS
Further information:
For further information please contact Alice Neeson on: alice.neeson@nihrc.org’ (028) 9024 3987 (office)’ 0771 7731873 (mobile).


Notes to editors

  1. 1.The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.