Lord Frost fires back at Amnesty International who state invoking Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol would jeopardise equality and human rights.

Lord Frost has rebuffed claims that invoking Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol would jeopardise equality and human rights protections. 

The Brexit minister said in a letter to Amnesty International that he was just looking for “secure changes” to trade frictions. He claimed that Britain’s decision to leave the EU had no bearing on the Good Friday Agreement’s human rights provisions, and that Boris Johnson was committed to the peace agreement. 

After the charity warned Lord Frost that suspending parts of the Protocol might jeopardise Article 2 of the Treaty, which guarantees “no diminution of rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity in Northern Ireland,” he wrote. 

“The Government has always strongly supported Article 2 of the protocol, which became operational when the protocol was signed,” he added, refuting the charges. 

He said, “Since that point, the Government has worked closely with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to set up the dedicated mechanism, funding and supporting both commissions and creating a system in which rights are safeguarded.”

“We have absolutely guaranteed that there will be no diminution of these rights as a result of the UK leaving the EU.” 

The legal procedure that permits the UK or Brussels to unilaterally suspend sections of the Protocol is known as Article 16. 

Lord Frost, on the other hand, claimed that Article 2 of the treaty would be unaffected if Britain were to suspend sections of it. 

He said that all he wanted to do was adjust the deal’s trading terms. 

“The focus of those proposals is on the arrangements covering trade in goods and on the governance arrangements put in place by the protocol,” the Brexit minister stated. 

He went on to commend the deal for its dedication to labour and environmental rights after months of criticising the effect. 

“The TCA provides an excellent framework for managing all these issues and is working well,” he added. 

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland project director, said he “welcomed” Lord Frost’s letter but remained worried. 

He stated, “We remain concerned that any unravelling of agreements between the UK and EU threatens all the guarantees within the protocol, including essential human rights protections for people in Northern Ireland.”

“Like a game of Jenga there’s a real worry that taking out one vital piece could bring the whole thing tumbling down.” 

Lord Frost has said many times that he does not intend to use Article 16 to put the Protocol’s implementation on hold.