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  • Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos

Brexit as a human rights issue

Research undertaken by 'Britain in Europe' experts on the impact of Brexit on human rights is helping give the entire debate on Brexit a crucial human rights dimension.

The argument, in particular, that the continued uncertainty over the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU, could amount in itself to a violation of the right to private and family life under Art 8 ECHR, has been developed by BiE director Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, first in a research brief which formed part of a report by the ‘New Europeans’ on ‘A Case for Unilateral Guarantees’, submitted to the European Parliament’s hearing on The Situation and Rights of EU citizens in the UK, on 11 May 2017. The human rights argument was then developed orally by Dr Giannoulopoulos during the May 11 European Parliament hearing, and, more recently, in an oral evidence hearing before the House of Lords' EU Justice Sub-Committee.

Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos giving evidence on citizens' rights at the House of Lords

BiE's Dr Ruvi Ziegler has likewise submitted written evidence to the Lords' EU Justice Sub-Committee on the loss of electoral rights as a result of Brexit.

Dr Ruvi Ziegler is leading on the debate on the loss of electoral rights

Drawing on human rights research, including that produced by BiE, the New Europeans are now leading in efforts to reframe the debate on Brexit as a human rights issue.

At a symposium on 16th March at the European Commission's London offices (Europe House), supported by the European Association for the Defence of Human Rights, Britain in Europe and our Knowing Our Rights project, they will map out those areas of rights abuses which they expect the cold logic of the Brexit process to come to next.

Europe House

They will be asking: what will be the impact of Britain leaving the EU on the rights of disabled people in the UK, for example? Kamran Mallick from Disability Rights UK will be addressing the question. How will family rights, employment rights, the right to a fair trial be affected? The discussions will be led by experts such as Dr Nando Sigona from the University of Birmingham and Hannah Reed from the TUC as well as BiE's Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos. What are the implications of leaving the EU for data protection and our rights to privacy? They will be looking at this question with Gracie Bradley, from Liberty. BiE's Sir Geoffrey Nice QC will examine the long shadow that Brexit throws over the Human Rights Act more generally.

After Brexit there will be a whole raft of issues where the human rights situation will be less clear cut than it is now and where the level of human rights protection for all citizens may be weakened. If this is the case, it could spell devastating consequences for some of the most vulnerable groups in our society - groups like EU27 citizens, but not just EU27 citizens.

The event is sold out, but there will be a live broadcast for New European members, and there will be live tweeting, including via @BRinEUROPE

For more information on the symposium see the New Europeans webpage here and here.

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