Equality and human rights legal framework – Welsh Government assessment
The Welsh Government has committed to strengthen the equality and human rights legal framework, including by considering the incorporation of international human rights law. However, there is limited evidence of sustained positive outcomes for people in Wales.
- Following the Gender Equality Review in 2019, the Welsh Government has committed to taking forward recommendations to strengthen human rights and equality protections in Wales.
- The Welsh Government’s commitment to consider the incorporation of international human rights law into domestic legislation is positive. As yet, there are no details of how this would be taken forward in practice.
- The Coronavirus Act 2020, introduced as temporary legislation to protect life, included provisions that weakened human rights protections in Wales. This included removing the duty on local authorities to meet the needs of adults who require care and support; however, the Welsh Government did not consent to removing duties relating to care and support for children.
- Although the Welsh Government published statements explaining how any human rights interferences in the Coronavirus Health Protection (Wales) Regulations are justified, it did not produce equality impact assessments (as required under the Equality Act 2010 (Statutory Duties) (Wales) Regulations 2011) or children’s rights impact assessments (as required under the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011).
- There is no human rights monitoring mechanism in the Welsh Government to monitor progress and ensure implementation of UN recommendations.
- The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 sets a framework to improve economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing in Wales and consider the long-term impact of decisions. There is potential for it to enhance the existing human rights framework, but the Act does not strengthen individual redress for rights or specify human rights issues on which action should be taken. The Future Generations Report 2020 found that most public bodies are progressing with implementation, but the Act needs to be further embedded.
- The Welsh Government incorporated the need to give due regard to children’s rights in the Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011. Research in 2018 concluded that the Measure has had an impact on how children’s rights are considered in policy development, but there is still inconsistent application of the obligations of the Measure from Welsh Government . There have also been no successful legal cases using it as a ground to challenge decision-making in Wales.
- There are concerns that a number of public bodies in Wales still lack clarity about the relevance of the Socio-economic Duty and how to take it forward.
Read more about the UK and Welsh Governments’ actions on the equality and human rights legal framework.