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Ministers need to raise game on human rights, Commission claims

13 April 2017

The Scottish Government as well as the UK Government needs to go further in promoting and protecting human rights, according to the Scottish Human Rights Commission in a new submission.

In evidence to the latest Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights of the UK by the United Nations, the Commission states that a number of international human rights standards and recommendations have not yet been met, and "Significant challenges continue to be felt where it really matters – in the reality of too many people’s day-to-day lives."

The human rights watchdog wants the Scottish Government and Parliament to prove their commitment to universal human rights by incorporating all UN human rights treaties by strengthening their enforceability in law. Standards and principles of human rights should be at the heart of policy making, spending decisions, monitoring and accountability of all public bodies and the exercising of new devolved powers. And specific human rights issues still faced by a number of groups in Scotland including Gypsies and Travellers, people accessing social care services and those in detention, need to be addressed.

Making 24 specific recommendations, the Commission highlights that addressing inequality and realising an adequate standard of living, education, housing and healthcare services, involves standards in the international framework of human rights laws that the UK has signed and formally agreed to, and ministers should therefore ensure that policies and procedures are consistent with all international human rights laws.

"In particular," it states, "it is important that the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament take a human rights based approach in relation to:

  • Policy making and spending decisions (particularly those that affect vulnerable groups).
  • The new powers devolved to Scotland in relation to social security and taxation.
  • The development of the Scottish Government’s ten year mental health strategy.
  • Introducing and championing measures to reduce inequalities including the educational attainment gap
  • Strengthening support for those with human rights issues such as those living in poverty, ethnic minority groups, disabled people, Gypsies and Travellers, refugees, migrant workers, people receiving social care, victims of human trafficking and people in detention.
  • Improving monitoring, data collection, reporting and staff training around specific key issues such as human trafficking and hate crime."

Click here to access the evidence submission.


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