53. Memorandum from Mr David
I wish to comment on the consideration to establish
a Human Rights Commission in the UK. My background is nine years
as a Community Relations Officer, 13 years as a Principal Race
Equality Officer with a local authority, four years as a JP and
five years as a member of the Employment Tribunal. My comments
are as follows:
In addition to all those mentioned in your paper
dated 5 April 2001, there are public bodies such as the Prison
Service, Police and Customs and Excise where a Commission could
help develop a culture of human rights. Such public bodies at
present often fall short on human rights.
The Committee should oversee the work of a Commission.
A Commission should provide regular reports to the Committee on
its work and its findings.
First, priority should be to take cases of breaches
of the Human Rights Act to court. Second, it should have a role
of investigating and monitoring public bodies in regard to their
responsibility to ensure good practice in respect of human rights.
Third, it should have an education role for the public in general
and in helping public bodies to enshrine human rights in all their
There should be a UK body with territorial responsibility.
An exchange of information but separate responsibilities.
(a) A Commission should co-exist with the
CRE, EOP, and DRC. It is vital that those Equality Commissions
continue to specialise on race, sex, and disability discrimination.
An amalgamation into one HR Commission would lead to racial minorities,
women and people with disabilities competing for priority for
their interests within a HR Commission with all the political
fallout that such a situation would attract. Their roles should
not overlap. A human rights violation concerning race, sex, or
disability discrimination should be directed to the appropriate
Commission, where considerable experience in dealing with a specific
type of discrimination has been built up over several years.
(b) Race, sex and disability discrimination
should be excluded from a HR Commission and remain the remit of
the Equality Commissions.
The powers should be similar to those under
sections 54 to 66 of the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Sex Discrimination
The composition of the members of the Committee
and staff of a Commission should broadly reflect the population
in terms of its proportion of men, women, ethnic minorities, age
and so on.
15 June 2001