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Brexit threat to human rights

Published: 2 Feb 2017 09:45

UN warns UK Government’s plans risk opening ‘Pandora’s Box’ for ‘deregulation and regression’.

The UN has described Brexit as a ‘real threat’ to regression from human rights standards according to a new report.

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak, has said that following a two week visit to the UK he has found “no indication of a political commitment to retaining current standards for health and environmental protection’ following Brexit. Mr Tuncak also states that the UK government ‘does not rule out deviations from EU standards of public health or environmental protection’.

Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell said the report was deeply concerning.

Mr Russell said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to protecting and enhancing our environment, and we have achieved high levels of pollution control and environmental quality as a result of membership of the EU, while helping influence the development of those standards across Europe. 

“We have a moral and legal obligation to protect citizens’ health and Scotland’s magnificent natural resources, so it’s deeply concerning to read this report. The UN believes that Brexit is a ‘real threat’ to standards and describes the current situation as a ‘Pandora’s Box’ for deregulation. Coming from the UN, that’s a damning assessment that should worry everyone who fears a race to the bottom is not just possible, but probable, following Brexit.

“Of course, it can be stopped. The UK Government must clearly commit to maintaining current standards, while control in these areas must be passed from Westminster to Holyrood so that we can uphold, and potentially improve upon, the standards and protections we have built up over decades.”

The report of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes can be viewed at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21132&LangID=E