Scottish Greens welcome commitment to a Human Rights Bill

Scotland can be a world leader for human rights.

The Scottish Greens Equalities and Human Rights spokesperson, Maggie Chapman, has welcomed confirmation that the Scottish Government will bring forward a Human Rights Bill to the Scottish Parliament in the months ahead

In a debate on eradicating child poverty held this week, Ms Chapman asked the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice to reaffirm their commitment to groundbreaking human rights legislation for Scotland.

The Scottish Government had previously promised to bring in a Human Rights Bill to incorporate four international human rights treaties directly into Scots law. However, since assuming the role of First Minister, there had not been any mention of this legislation by John Swinney or his government.

In response to Ms Chapman's call in the debate, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Shirley-Anne Somerville, responded: “The Government remains committed to a strong Human Rights Act for Scotland. As we are currently in a pre-election period, we are limited in what we can say on those issues, but I look forward to carrying on my discussions with Maggie Chapman on the matter.”

Speaking after the debate, Maggie Chapman MSP, said: “I was pleased, and I know that many involved in the promotion of human rights in Scotland will be relieved, to see this clear statement from the Scottish Government.

"This is crucial. Incorporating economic, social and cultural rights into Scots Law as well as other international treaties and the right to a healthy environment will give us additional levers to tackle not only child poverty, but broader inequalities that exist in all of our communities.

“There is still much work to be done to make this a reality, and I will make as strong a case as I can for robust and comprehensive provisions in this legislation that give public bodies clear duties to act. The Bill must have sufficient scope and give appropriate powers to the Scottish Human Rights Commission, and it must oblige public bodies to comply with basic human rights standards, not merely consider them.  

“Scotland can be a genuine leader in implementing human rights provisions across all aspects of our lives, including in the provision of public services and people’s ability to seek redress when things go wrong. Whilst many parts of the world are going backwards as far as human rights are concerned, we can and must move forward.”