Civil society and human rights organisations have called on the Scottish Government to take progressive steps towards the realisation of all our human rights in Scotland.
Making Rights Real joined with over 50 organisations have signed an open letter addressed to the First Minister – ahead of the parliamentary debate on the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and following the passing of the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill – warning that plans for the new legislation for a Scottish Human Rights Bill must not be watered down.
Kaukab Stewart MSP explained: “The past year has been a stark example of atrocities abroad, and measures being taken by the UK Government, such as the pursuit of their Rwanda deportation policy, comes with it serious concerns for the protection, safety, and dignity of those who are targeted by it. She continued, “The 75th anniversary is a cause for celebration, but also a wakeup call: the struggle for human rights never ends. We must always remain open to assessing what we can do better and how we can better support people – particularly vulnerable minority groups.”
Clare MacGillivray, Director at Making Rights Real added: “Communities in Scotland are facing egregious breaches to their human rights in Scotland, right now. We are calling on the First Minister to press forward with the ambitious plans to incorporate human rights into Scots law and to make rights real for everyone in Scotland now.”
Mhairi Snowden, Director, Human Rights Consortium Scotland added: “There is huge support for the upcoming Human Rights Bill across Scottish civil society. It is brilliant that the UNCRC Bill has finally passed. Now we’re asking the First Minister to keep his foot on the pedal because, right now, human rights are still just ‘words’ on paper for many people. It is time to put all our rights into law for everyone, so that they increasingly become more of a tangible reality.”
Civil society organisations and community groups have also requested MSPs to express their support for the new Scottish Human Rights Bill during the debate yesterday and to address their concerns by asking for: a clear timetable for its legislative progress, cross-party support for its implementation, and a broader legislative approach within devolved powers to expand its scope.
“We have a UK Government intent on rolling back rights protections, so progressive action on human rights from the Scottish Government is not only welcome but vital,” said Liz Thomson, Advocacy Manager at Amnesty Scotland. She continued, “The published Bill must be shaped by the recommendations made by Amnesty and others during this Summer’s consultation. Without a strong duty on public bodies to uphold the new law it won’t bring the change we need.”
Yesterday’s motion to celebrate Human Rights Day was an opportunity to emphasise the importance of bipartisan cooperation in order to ensure that this Bill will be as effective as possible upon its introduction, passage, and implementation.
“We need a clear legal framework which embeds international human rights within domestic law and drives transformative and positive change for all people across Scotland,” highlighted Emma Hutton, CEO at JustRight Scotland. She continued, “This includes the substantive international human right to an accessible, affordable, timely and effective remedy to improve access to justice and break barriers, so that individuals can claim their rights, understand them and access them.”