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Respecting human rights domestically

The Scottish Government is committed to creating a modern, inclusive Scotland which protects, respects and realises internationally recognised human rights. We strongly believe in and subscribe to the principles laid out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Human rights are firmly entrenched at the heart of Scotland's existing consitutional, legal and institutional structures. Section 57(1) of the Scotland Act 1998 enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights as a fundamental standard for the actions of government and all Scottish legislation. The Human Rights Act 1998 ensures that every other public authority in Scotland is also obliged to act compatibly with the Convention.

Scotland's devolved institutions have a key role in implementing and upholding human rights standards. In those areas where the Scottish Government has competence, Scotland takes a distinctive approach, in keeping with the importance we have long attached to human dignity, equality and fairness and the pursuit of social justice.

The Human Rights Act 1998

The Conservative Party manifesto for the 2015 general election promised to replace the Human Rights Act with a “British Bill of Rights.” The UK Government has promised to "bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights.”

An independent Commission on a Bill of Rights was established by the UK Government in March 2011. The Scottish Government made submissions to the Commission on 16 November 2011 and on 27 September 2012. The Commission's final report (December 2012) showed that Scotland does not want the current legislation to change.

On 11 November 2014 the Scottish Parliament passed a motion in support of the Human Rights Act by 100 votes to 10.

In a speech delivered in Glasgow on 23 September 2015, the First Minister set out the Scottish Government position that the UK Government’s proposals will diminish the country’s reputation overseas, damage relations with devolved governments, and impact on people’s welfare.

On 12 November 2015, Alex Neil MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights gathered together stakeholders from all parts of the UK at an event to express collective support for the Human Rights Act 1998.

In Autumn 2015, the Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee issued a call for written evidence on the potential implications for Scotland of the repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the introduction of a British Bill of Rights. The Scottish Government submitted a response on 30 November 2015.

On 9 December 2015, the First Minister delivered the keynote speech at an Innovation Forum entitled 'Putting the justice into social justice: how international human rights can deliver progressive change for Scotland'. The Forum marked the second anniversary of the launch of Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights.