The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and United Kingdom Law

By David Harris; Sarah Joseph | Go to book overview

that citizenship by virtue of a connection with Gibraltar, have rights of free movement under the Treaty of Rome, the Single European Act, and, most comprehensively, the Treaty of Maastricht, Article 8a of which guarantees all citizens of the Union the right to move and reside freely throughout the territory of the Union. That right must be applied under Article F2 in accordance with the principles enshrined in the ECHR. The Covenant is not mentioned, presumably in part because one member of the Union, Greece, is not a party to it. Everyone else is subject to the Immigration Rules. This includes British Overseas citizens, British Protected Persons, British Dependent Territories citizens, British Subjects without citizenship, British nationals (Overseas).

Before the Committee, United Kingdom representative Faulkner explained that this legislation was designed to 'control the entry of persons, principally from East Africa, who had British citizenship but no other ties with the United Kingdom'.95 The primary rationale behind such controls is the protection of the British labour market. However, Faulkner added: 'There was also the issue of preserving good social relations within the host communities. Experience had shown that the mass influx into the country of persons who were not native born, particularly in the case of blacks, had led to social tensions.'96 Committee member Lallah has commented that while, 'from a technical point of view, the reservations which the British government had made with regard to the Covenant permitted it to adopt such an attitude, they were not justified from a humanitarian standpoint'.97


CONCLUSIONS

Only a few of the immigrant-receiving countries have accepted the Optional Protocol to the Covenant. Most of these have incorporated the Covenant into domestic law. Some, for example, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, are also parties to the ECHR and victims usually use that mechanism when their national systems fail to protect international standards. Others, like Canada, have domestic bills of rights or Charters which in theory provide a safety-net for rights of free movement without the need to have recourse to the Human Rights Committee. The jurisprudence of the Committee in this area is consequently somewhat patchy, if not non-existent. This makes it more difficult to determine whether the United Kingdom's law and practice are in conformity with its obligations under the Covenant. The immigration reservation purports to

____________________
95
CCPR/C/SR.595, para. 4.
97
CCPR/C/SR.595, para. 10.

-330-

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