The current human rights policy context in Scotland is positive, dynamic and on divergent tracks to the rest of the UK (rUK). With a real “risk of post-Brexit regression in rights” according to the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership, there is a national ambition “to establish a new framework of human rights designed to improve people’s daily lives” in Scotland. Although still a long way off from embedding human rights in the process, structure and outcomes of Scottish Government and public service policy, several initiatives combine to shift the trajectory and improve life experiences of people in Scotland.
Whilst there is a strong rhetoric push towards participation and empowerment, and positive steps forward in relation to human rights policy context in Scotland; evidence tells us that there remains a gap between policy objectives and the people continuing to experience human rights violations in Scotland.
COVID-19 and the impact on rights in Scotland
The embedded rights violations and inequalities that already existed in Scotland before COVID-19 have been brutally exposed by the disproportionate death and infection rate amongst the poorest, most marginalised and minority groups from Coronavirus.
Human rights in Scotland are at risk, with disproportionate impacts emerging for women, people living in poverty, people in low paid and insecure employment, people with disabilities, prisoners, older people and ethnic minorities including Scotland’s Gypsy Travellers and the Roma community.
Although the scoping for Making Rights Real started before the Coronavirus emergency, the cruelty of human rights violations exposed since the pandemic took hold shows why we need a strengthened collective effort to protect, respect and fulfil rights in Scotland, with rights holders’ asserting their rights from the grassroots.
The time is right in Scotland to set up an organisation that supports and empowers rights holders to hold duty bearers to account and make economic and social change happen.