London, United Kingdom:
Prominent human rights attorney Amal Clooney resigned as UK media freedom envoy on Friday to protest the government’s “deplorable” decision to violate her EU divorce treaty.
Clooney became the third attorney to split from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration after introducing laws that would rewrite his post-Brexit obligations to the European Union towards Northern Ireland.
She undermined the rule of law “threatens to encourage autocratic regimes that violate international law and have devastating consequences around the world,” she wrote in a letter to Foreign Minister Dominic Raab seen by AFP.
“Although the government has proposed that the violation of international law would be ‘specific and limited’, it is unfortunate that the UK is speaking of its intention to violate an international treaty signed by the Prime Minister less than a year ago.”
When she was appointed to the United Kingdom in April 2019, Clooney had welcomed the opportunity to build on her legal defense against persecuted journalists by working with the government to promote a free press around the world.
“I accepted the role because I believe in the importance of the cause and appreciate the important role Britain has played and can continue to play in promoting international law,” she wrote.
“Unfortunately, as the Special Envoy, it has now become untenable for me to urge other states to respect and enforce international obligations, while the UK declares that it does not intend to do so itself.”
While admitting the UK’s Single Market Act is contrary to the EU Withdrawal Agreement, the government believes that if the EU is to unfairly obstruct trade with Northern Ireland, it is necessary to protect the country’s territorial integrity.
The argument failed to convince two other lawyers who recently resigned from government, including Richard Keen, Scotland’s top lawyer.
In his letter of resignation to Johnson, he said he had “found it increasingly difficult to reconcile my legal obligations with your political intentions regarding UKIM law”.
After suppressing a revolt against the legislation and under pressure to clarify its intent, the government issued a document Thursday setting out various scenarios in which the law’s provisions would be implemented.
In an obvious olive branch to Brussels, the document states that the government will also try not to unilaterally resolve disputes with the EU after Brexit in “appropriate formal dispute settlement mechanisms”.
The document was released when EU-UK trade negotiators met in Brussels to try again to avoid a potentially ruinous collapse when a post-Brexit transition period expires later this year.