News In Focus
SHRC calls for "National Action Plan" on rights
30 October 2012
A National Action Plan for Human Rights in Scotland has been called for today by the Scottish Human Rights Commission as it publishes the report of its three-year-long research project into human rights in Scotland.
Entitled "Getting it Right? Human Rights in Scotland", the report highlights both the gaps and good practices in the realisation of internationally recognised human rights across eight key themes.
The National Action Plan, to be drafted over the next year, will set out how to “fill the gaps” in human rights protection in Scotland. The Commission has also today launched an invitation to the public to help shape the Plan, with an opportunity to submit proposals between now and March.
The eight themes covered by the report are: dignity and care; health; where we live; education and work; private and family life; safety and security; living in detention; and access to justice and the right to an effective remedy.
Some of the specific issues highlighted in the research include the right to adequate housing, fair pay, fuel poverty, availability of services in rural areas, policing, the rights of victims of crime, non-discrimination in healthcare, and the rights of disabled people, Scottish Gypsy/Travellers and asylum seekers in Scotland.
Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Commission, said: “What we’ve found in this study is that while Scotland has made notable progress in a number of areas, it can do better. Crucially the research has shown that while there are some good high level policies and strong legislation, the realisation of human rights doesn’t always happen in people's day-to-day lives.
“More needs to be done to ensure that human rights are consistently upheld in areas like housing, health care, social care, education, and in the justice system. There is much more that could be done to bring Scotland up to internationally recognised standards of enjoyment of human rights.
“From today the Commission will be working closely with a range of people and organisations to draw up a meaningful National Action Plan that sets out who has responsibilities, what the barriers might be and crucially a range of solutions that are workable and practical.
“The Commission will then monitor progress made in the implementation of the National Action Plan.”
The Commission points out that several other countries already have National Action Plans for Human Rights, including Demark, Australia, New Zealand, and Finland.
Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, endorsing the Scottish process, said: “It is very important that countries develop and implement National Action Plans with the participation of civil society, public bodies, United Nations experts, academics, parliaments and individuals.
“National Action Plans can bring clarity to states in identifying the steps they must take to improve the promotion and protection of human rights, especially for the most vulnerable people. I am pleased to welcome the initiative taken by the Scottish Human Rights Commission to carry out this broad consultation."
The proposed National Action Plan has been backed by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. Councillor Harry McGuigan, COSLA Community Wellbeing Spokesperson commented:
“COSLA will be seeking to encourage local government to take an active role in the development of the Action Plan to ensure that it, along with guidance and other support, create structures and processes that will be helpful to councils in determining policy, setting strategies and allocating resources.
The Commission will also be holding an InterAction event in Glasgow on Monday 10 December, International Human Rights Day. At this meeting commitments will be negotiated directly with organisations who deliver services and those who advocate for people’s human rights. Roseanna Cunningham, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, will address the conference.
A short summary of the report's findings, along with the full version, can be accessed at www.scottishhumanrights.com/actionplan
The public participation phase of the National Action Plan runs until 29 March 2013.