[Sinn Fein]

2nd February 2003

Human Rights are central to success of Peace Process

Speaking on the eve of a conference organised by the Human Rights Consortium to be held at Stormont, Sinn Fein Equality and Human Rights Spokesperson, Bairbre de Brún said:

"This is an opportunity for NGOs, community groups and political parties to discuss the vital issues around human rights and taking forward a Bill of Rights. It is important that all those interested in moving forward as a society make their voices heard. Respect for human rights is indeed the only basis on which we can move forward as a society. No one should regard the promotion and protection of human rights as a threat.

"Social and economic rights are fundamental in any society which seeks equality for its citizens. International human rights instruments have recognised this, and any Bill of Rights for the north should look to these precedents. Social and economic exclusion played a significant role in fuelling divisions, and enshrining social and economic justice in law will contribute to the creation of the just and equal society we all wish to see.

"A Bill of Rights without effective protection mechanisms will only raise expectations, which cannot be fulfilled. All sections of society need to have confidence that the failures of the past will not be repeated. The most effective mechanism to ensure that we move forward and give confidence in the future is, we believe, a constitutional court. This would guarantee the provisions of the Bill of Rights, and uphold the principles of human rights as set out in the Good Friday Agreement."

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