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House of Commons
Parliamentary bodies dealing with human rights :
Joint Committee on Human Rights

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Type of parliamentary body Specialized
Nature Permanent
Related to chambers House of Commons
House of Lords
Date of creation First appointed January 2001, reappointed in July 2001 for the remainder of the Parliament.
Last renewal date
Mandate The Committee was first appointed in January 2001 and reappointed in July 2001 for the remainder of the Parliament. The Committee is empowered under its standing order (House of Commons S.O. No. 152B) and its order of appointment (House of Lords, 16 July 2001) to "consider matters relating to human rights in the United Kingdom" and to consider remedial orders under the UK Human Rights Act 1998. It interprets this to include scrutiny of all bills presented to Parliament for their compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 and other international human rights instruments to which the UK is signatory; examination of reports made by the UK Government under such instruments; examination of the performance of public authorities in relation to their duties under the Human Rights Act; and examination of remedial orders (a special form of delegated legislation which ministers may use to effect rapid changes to the law where the courts have found that the law is incompatible with Convention rights). It is specifically barred from considering individual cases.
Membership The Committee comprises six members of the House of Commons and six members of the House of Lords, appointed by each House separately. It elects its own Chair, who is presently a member of the Commons.
Working methods The Committee determines its own agenda. It has power to send for persons, papers and records, to take evidence and make reports. Its evidence-taking sessions are in public, but all other proceedings are closed. It may meet and take evidence anywhere within the UK. It makes regular reports of its findings, and these reports are published. It is the Committee's own responsibility (and Parliament's more widely) to monitor the implementation of its recommendations.
Relations with other parliamentary bodies The Committee has the power to meet jointly with any other Committee of Parliament, but has never exercised this power. It reports to Parliament.
Relations with external bodies The Committee has no formal relationship with other bodies outside Parliament, but works closely with a wide range of bodies including Government departments, NGOs, inspectorates and ombudsmen etc. It is currently conducting an inquiry into the case for establishing a national human rights commission.
Subjects dealt with The Committee will hold a short inquiry into children's rights. Issues of particular interest will include: children in detention (including the use of restraint and deaths in custody); the practical impact of the withdrawal of the UK's reservations on immigration and children in custody with adults to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC); discrimination against children on the grounds of age or disability; asylum seeking children; child trafficking victims (including ratification of the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography); discrimination against children in education (including access by vulnerable groups, child participation, complaints, bullying, exclusions and segregation); how best to enshrine in law the Government's goal of eradicating child poverty by 2020, in view of the right of every child to an adequate standard of living under Article 27 UNCRC; criminalisation of children; and participation of children in the armed forces.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has recently agreed to undertake a short inquiry on UK legislation relating to genocide, torture and related offences committed abroad. The Committee is seeking information and views on: the number of prosecutions under the Genocide Act 1969, the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 and the International Criminal Court Act 2001 for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity offences committed abroad, and their outcomes; the number of suspected perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity present in the UK who cannot be prosecuted because of the date the crimes occurred or because they are not resident in the UK; the rationale for the differences in the legal regimes applying to the offences of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed abroad; and whether the law should be changed to ensure it is more consistent and what the practical consequences of change may be, for example in terms of police resources required to investigate such crimes.
Main address House of Commons, 7 Millbank

Phone +44 20 72 19 24 67, +44 20 72 19 27 97
Fax +44 20 7219 8393
E-mail jchr@parliament.uk
Website www.parliament.uk/jchr
Name Mr. Andrew Dismore
Notes Chair
Address (if different from above)
Phone +44 20 72 19 24 67
Fax +44 20 72 19 83 93
E-mail andrewdismoremp@parliament.uk
Website www.andrewdismoremp.com
Name Mr. Mark Egan
Notes Commons Committee Clerk
Address (if different from above)
Phone +44 20 72 19 27 97
Fax ...
E-mail EGANM@parliament.uk
web site: ...
Name Ms. Rebecca Neal
Notes Lords Committee Clerk
Address (if different from above)
Phone +44 20 72 19 67 72
Fax ...
E-mail ...
web site: ...

Information on this page was last updated on 1 October 2002
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