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Human Rights Consultation

The Real Fathers For Justice, N.Ireland (RFFJ)

Forward,

With due recognition of the hard work and dedication that has been given to
reaching this stage of development in the Bill of Rights, the social implications of
a Bill of Rights since its conception has been lacking one very important factor,
complete social inclusion. There has been past consultations on the issues
regarding children and women, with very little input from groups representing,
young men, men and fathers. Section 75 equality procedures were not adherent
in the creation of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland and as such the validity of a
Bill of Rights has to be questionable under domestic law.

A Bill of Rights should be recognisable by all vulnerable people in our society and
should not be turned into a shopping list for positive discrimination of young men,
men and fathers.

As this Bill is being created we have in Northern Ireland secret courts that have
been created to bypass the freedoms that mothers, fathers and children should
enjoy under the EHRC, the ability of a Bill of Rights to overcome this is highly
questionable if at all possible. The creation of secret family law courts is currently
made possible by:

The Brussels Office Law Reform Update Series: EU Family Law and Wills
and Succession Matters, March 2009

UK Government position
The United Kingdom has a right to choose whether to be bound by European
legislation in the field of civil justice and family law, issues that fall under Article
65 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (“TEC”). It did not opt in to
the proposed Regulation dealing with applicable law and jurisdiction on divorce
and to date it has not opted in to the proposed Regulation relating to
maintenance obligations.

All steps must be included to reverse this in a BILL of Rights For Northern Ireland
This consultation document as provided by the N.Ireland Office is felt to be
inadequate by RFFJ, as the consultation does not give room to explore what
should be included with a Bill Of Rights.

Post this equality impact consultation there needs to be a direct consultation that
is dedicated to appraising actual right to be contained within the Bill of Rights.

As highlighted by RFFJ, the closed family courts in N.Ireland can act outside of
articles 6 & 8 of a child’s, mothers and fathers human rights. In cases of children
being taken into care this could be considered as being in the child’s best interest
to prevent child abuse. The development of the family law industry this has fed
into contact and residence cases and the law is being manipulated to remove
caring parents from children’s lives.

This manipulation is further supported by family law courts operation upon a


balance of probabilities rather than on a testing of evidence, the ability to have a
fair trial is reliant upon the personal discretion of the sitting judge.

As there is no area within the consultation document to explore said violations of


human rights that need addressed it is clear that further consultation with fathers
groups is need to have a Bill of Rights that is socially inclusive of the population of
N.Ireland.

(A) Do you believe a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland


should contain a statement that everyone in Northern Ireland is
equal before the law and has equal rights? What might be the
practical and legal implications of such a statement?

Not everyone in N.Ireland is equal in terms of the law; several inequalities have
been served through for example:
• Family Law.
• Divorce Law.
• Enjoyment of provision of public money for vulnerable young men,
men, fathers and their children in terms of domestic violence and other
violent crimes..
• Enjoyment of provision of public money to serve educational and
community inclusion services to young men and men.

There should be no legal implications in terms of serving equality to the whole


community of Northern Ireland; social attitudes seem to be the only material
evidence for the continuing cycle of inequality in N.Ireland. The above have been
known and highlighted inequalities and breaches of Human Rights which are yet
to be resolved and are not fully recognisable within the Bill Of Rights.

Who and what we are as a society in N.Ireland has underwent huge changes,
inequality emerged in N.Ireland in terms of the women’s rights movement, and
this was quickly followed by religious inequalities. Since the signing of the UN
Convention on The Rights of Children (UNCRC) there have been several failed
attempts to enshrine this convention into domestic law. The children of N.Ireland
should have the rights that the UK & N.Ireland undersigned to give them.

The Enactment of the Children’s Order in 1995, a law that merged public and
private law cases, was not fully compliant with the UNCRC and allowed violations
of Human Rights under articles 6, 8 & 14. As recent as 2009 there have been
celebrations of the signing of the convention that is meaningless in the eyes of
the law, the children of N.Ireland need protected from the Children’s Order 1995,
the law is the primary tool that has been used by the government so that they
can take the parental responsibility of children from parents through secret courts
akin to the dip loc courts. Through the same secret courts the Children’s Order
1995 has been manipulated by the legal industry, social services and mothers in
N.Ireland in order to remove a child’s father, this is possible as the law is capable
of being manipulated. A Bill of Rights may not rectify the ability of the
government to technically kidnap children from their parents and to stop the law
being manipulated in private law cases, but should have a positive equality
impact upon other areas as highlighted above.

There is concern upon the impact of equality as summary execution of the Bill of
rights is to be enforced through the same judicial system in where violations of
the Bill of Rights may occur. Serious consideration as to who executes summary
justice of the Bill of Rights is required, with such provisions that a Bill of Rights
should include there should be no material reason to bring cases to the ECHR.
Recognition of failures in domestic law should constitute a written change in
domestic law.

Firstly the term ‘Equality’ needs clear definition, if equality is the equal status to
enjoy the freedoms and liberties of a Bill of Rights then there is the need to
rewrite laws and restructure the courts. The current judicial system in N.Ireland in
terms of social and some criminal law are mechanisms used to bypass the
freedom and liberty to enjoy established rights that currently stand.

(B) The grounds on which discrimination in Northern Ireland is currently


unlawful include religious belief, political opinion, race, age, gender,
gender reassignment, marital status, sexual orientation, and disability.
Do you believe that any other “protected categories” particular to
Northern Ireland should be added to this list? Some examples might be:
• Nationality;
• National origin;
• Family or carer status;

Father and mother should be equally recognised in this area, as parents we have
obligations to live a life with further responsibilities than the average adult. There
has been a severe fracturing of families in Northern Ireland since the enactment
of the Children’s Oder 1995; this fracture by far surpasses the fracturing of
families during 30 years of the sectarian violence. Rights and responsibilities need
built upon so that children can be best served through a Bill of Rights
• Irrelevant criminal record.

A definition of what is an irrelevant crime would need fully considered before such
an action is entered into written law and to be compatible with the proposal to
introduce Sarah’s Law in Northern Ireland in terms of child protection

(C) Public authorities also have a duty to have due regard to the need to
promote equality of opportunity.
• Between persons of different religious belief, political
opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation;
• Between men and women generally;
• Between persons with a disability and persons without; and
• Between persons with dependants and persons without;

Do you believe that they should be given this duty in respect of any
other groups?

The definition of men and women is a broad definition; there should be inclusion
of a sub category – Biological FATHER & MOTHER. When a man or woman became
a parent, the actions and responsibilities of said individuals are different to those
who are not parents. A Bill of Rights must recognise these actions and
responsibilities and in all cases aid parents to be parents.

Children – the UNCRC needs to be enforceable in full through the Bill of Rights, the
most common violation of Human Rights in children is article 8 – the right to
family life, article 7 of the UNCRC needs written into the Bill of Rights.

Article 7
You have the right to a legally registered name and nationality.
You also have the right to know and, as far as possible, to be cared for by your
parents.

(D) Do you agree that a right freely to vote in and be elected at genuine
periodic elections held by secret ballot should be included in a Bill of
Rights, subject to reasonable restrictions?
In a democratic society in where public servants are elected to serve the public
there should be no restriction upon elections. Even in the event of war the public
should have the right to freely elect a new government; instances in Iraq and
Afghanistan have shown that despite huge public opposition the governments of
the land have still waged war.

There should be provision in the Bill of Rights in that the government upon public
pressure, in terms of petition for example, must hold an election.

(E) Do you believe that the Bill of Rights should include the principle
that any electoral system used in Northern Ireland should provide for
both main communities to be fairly represented?

Until we reach such an occasion that we have a workable and accountable


transfer of policing and justice there is no need to change the current electoral
system.

There would be some concern that proportional representation will be a constant


factor in Northern Ireland politics, this is a system that can be manipulated by
parties with different manifests forming political blocks to counter act other
political parties.

(F) Do you believe that the Bill of Rights should also require that the
structures of the Assembly and local government should enable
inclusive and equitable participation by elected representatives?

Until we reach such an occasion that we have a workable and accountable


transfer of policing and justice there is no need to change the current
participation system.

(G) Do you believe that there should be a requirement for the


membership of public bodies to, as far as practicable, be representative
of the community in Northern Ireland?

The definition of community of one that needs explored, we have seen


segregation in representative community group on gender issues.

(H) Do you believe that any other provisions (whether or not discussed
above) should be included in a Bill of Rights to help secure fundamental
democratic rights in Northern Ireland?
(I) Do you agree that the right of the people of Northern Ireland to
identify themselves as British or Irish or both should be included in a Bill
of Rights?

Yes - citizens of N.Ireland must also be able to appeal cases of human rights
violations to the Northern Ireland courts even though the offence/violation occurs
in the Republic of Ireland.

(J) Do you agree that the right of the people of Northern Ireland to hold
British and Irish citizenship should be included in a Bill of Rights?

Yes – see answer to (I)

(K) Is there a need for the existing obligations on public authorities in


the equality field to be consolidated into a Bill of Rights?

Current equality laws are in place, any attempt to further these in a Bill of Rights
will only increase the time taken to litigate cases of violations. Adequate
punishment of public authorities or those who are awarded public finance needs
implemented.

(L) Do you believe there are areas in which the identity and ethos of the
two communities is not sufficiently protected by the existing equality
legislation? If so, should an additional obligation be placed on public
authorities in this respect?

(M) Do you believe that there is a need to extend the existing


obligations on public authorities, by requiring them also to have regard
to the desirability of promoting a spirit of tolerance, dialogue and
mutual respect between people? What might the practical effect of such
additional obligations be?

(N) Do you believe that the ECHR offers insufficient protection from the
requirement to swear an oath that is contrary to an individual’s religion
or belief? If so, what additional protection might be needed in a Bill of
Rights? How might it be framed?

(O) Do you believe that there are additional protections in relation to


Irish or Ulster Scots that should be included in a Bill of Rights? What
form might such protections take?

(P) Do you agree that any Bill of Rights should include a measure aimed
at combating sectarian violence or harassment? Should such a measure
take the form of a duty placed on public authorities? If so, which public
authorities should be included?

Q) Do you believe that there is a need for a Bill of Rights to contain


additional protections to prevent individuals from being forced out of
their home by intimidation or harassment, in addition to any general
measures aimed at combating sectarian violence or harassment? If so,
what role might public authorities play?

(R) Should a provision about the ongoing process of re-examination of


deaths related to the conflict be included in a Bill of Rights? If so, how
should this is expressed?
S) Should provision be made in a Bill of Rights relating to victims of the
conflict? How should such a provision relate to the work that is currently
under way on the needs of victims?

T) The Government recognises that there have, in the past, been


substantial concerns about aspects of the criminal justice system
including the treatment of suspects, stemming from the history of the
conflict in Northern Ireland. Many legislative safeguards have already
been put in place to meet these concerns, but the Government would
welcome views on whether there is any further specific provision that
might be made in a Bill of Rights on this issue.

The treatment of fathers and men in family law cases, where as in a criminal court
evidence must be tested and a presumption of innocence exists. In a family law
court evidence there off is based on a balance of probability and quite often ruling
are made without a testing of the evidence provided
Social work reports submitted to judges in family law cases are not submitted to
the courts under oath, this must be reversed.
There have been several instances in where fathers have been forced to admit to
false allegations in order to have contact with their children.

As these courts are based on the same principle of the Dip Loc courts a reversal of
the use of such courts should be written into a Bill of Rights, justice must be seen
to be done.

(U) Recognizing the current flexible and risk-based approach to


providing support and protection to witnesses, jurors, judges and
lawyers, do you believe that further measures are needed in this area
which should be expressed in a Bill of Rights? If so, what additional
steps do you think are necessary?

This again shows a substantial failure in the creation of a Bill of Rights for
Northern Ireland, who and what we are socially has changed since paramilitary
activity ended and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. The Bill of Rights
should be working for the future and not dependent upon social attitudes of those
who are still in words living in the past to obtain public finance. There are far more
serious issues in the world of living than the deaths of yesterday.
V) Do you believe that any other individuals and organisations, in
addition to victims and the Human Rights Commission, should be able to
start human rights cases against public authorities?

Children and parents, who have had their human right to family life violated
should have swift routes for taking cases to resolve the matter.

(AA) Do you believe that any of the proposals outlined at Appendix 1 will
have a positive impact on people within any of the section 75
categories?
The ability to have a positive impact upon those categorised through section 75
will be limited, the Bill of Rights reads more as a best practice guide for public
authorities rather than furthering Human Rights all the people of N.Ireland.

(BB) Do you believe that any of the proposals outlined at Appendix 1 will
have an adverse impact on people within any of the section 75
categories?

(CC) If so, are there any measures that should be implemented to


mitigate against adverse impact on people in the section 75 categories?

With a devolved governing assembly there should be a reversal of the “Article 65


of the Treaty establishing the European Community (“TEC”)” for Northern Ireland.

(DD) Will any of the proposals affect the promotion of good relations
between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial
group?

In essence the proposals set out should not affect relationships, due monitoring
for the impact of the Bill should be made to ensure that the established rights are
not a cost of detriment to others.

(EE) Do you have any other comments on the equality impact of these
proposals?

A definition from the gender equality unit reads as “equality does not mean
treating people the same”,