Welsh Gov to explore Welsh Bill of Rights after condemning UK Government over ‘callous’ asylum plans
The Welsh Government have said that they will explore the creation of a Welsh Bill of Rights in order to “mitigate” the impact of new UK Government legislation on asylum seekers.
It comes after Welsh Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats condemned the UK Government for what they called an “assault on human rights” over the Nationality and Borders Act.
Ministers and Senedd Members blasted the UK Government over the 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 new plan to release Welsh specific UN reports and explore a Welsh Bill of Rights.
The UK Government say that the Nationality and Borders Act will deter illegal entry into the UK, breaking the business model of people-smuggling networks, and speed up the removal of those with no right to be in the UK.
This will in turn free up the asylum system so we can better support those in genuine need of asylum through safe and legal routes, they said.
But Counsel General Mick Antoniw said that “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,” he said.
“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.”
The Minister Welsh Government committed to a detailed plan of action which will explore incorporating UN Conventions into Welsh law which they said could potentially lead to a Welsh Bill of Rights.
Ministers stated: “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.”
Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said that the step cam after they had made their opposition to the UK Government bills “abundantly clear on numerous occasions and in the strongest terms”.
“They are entirely incompatible with the values we hold dear in Wales,” she said.
“The United Nations is right in what they say on the Nationality and Borders Act in particular. Five 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’.”