Letter to SNP Leadership Candidates from Human Rights Organisations
Human rights organisations in Scotland have asked SNP leadership candidates to honour commitments to introduce a new human rights bill for Scotland this parliamentary session, and progress implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill.
Scottish ministers have made repeated commitments to introduce a new Bill which will incoroporate four UN treaties into Scots law and provide for the right to a healthy environment, and a public consultation on the Bill was expected imminently prior to the First Minister's resignation.
The letter, signed by 15 leading human rights and equalities organisations, states:
"The legal framework which protects all of our rights in Scotland and the United Kingdom is not something to be taken for granted. These rights were hard-won. It is welcome that while we have seen threats and regression on core rights protections such as from the UK Bill of Rights Bill, the Scottish Government has not only defended existing protections, but started the work to strengthen them. Scotland’s next First Minister must continue that work.
"We know that people in Scotland are living with rights infringements every day, including endemic pollution, and that those infringements have been exacerbated to a deeply concerning level by austerity, impacts of COVID-19 measures, and the cost of living crisis. A strong legal framework and statutory underpinning of all of our rights will improve the way decisions, budgets and priorities are made. Scotland’s Human Rights Bill will be a vital tool in making sure that our fundamental human rights do not remain out of reach for some, but are guaranteed for all. This is surely the hallmark of a socially just country. We are therefore writing to you today to highlight the significant level of support and engagement for a Scottish Human Rights Incorporation Bill and to thank you for your assurances that you will stand by the Scottish Government’s previous commitments to introduce legislation within this session. It is also important that plans for full implementation of the Bill and details of how that will be resourced are not delayed."
The letter also highjlights the delayed implmentation of a Bill to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights o the Child, which was passed by a majority of the Scottish Parliament almost two years ago, adding:
"Two years is a long time in the life of a child, and many children and young people, and all of our organisations, are eagerly awaiting the commencement of this Bill. In the meantime, children and young people continue to live with lesser protection for their rights. This Bill is the most important step that Scotland can take to improve the lives of children and young people -we ask for your public commitment and reassurance that everything possible will be done to amend and commence this as soon as possible."
To date Humza Yousaf is the only candidate to commit to progressing the Bill.
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