Protecting human rights

FM outlines Scotland’s commitment to the Human Rights Act.

The Scottish Government will not grant the consent needed by the UK Government in any attempt to repeal the Human Rights Act First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today.

The First Minister highlighted how the Scottish Government strongly opposes any attempt to scrap the Act or withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.

The First Minister was joined by human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti, who also spoke about the importance of defending the Human Rights Act.

Speaking to an audience of civic organisations, the First Minister said:

“Responsibility for the Human Rights Act rests solely with the Westminster parliament, but European Convention rights are embedded into the devolution settlement and human rights itself is a devolved issue.

“That means that any attempt to repeal or amend the Human Rights Act is likely to require the legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament.

“It is inconceivable – given the breadth of the support which the Human Rights Act commands across the Scottish Parliament – that such consent would be granted. The Scottish Government will certainly advocate that it is not granted.

“The Scottish Government will also oppose any weakening of human rights protections – not just in Scotland, but across the whole of the UK. Human rights, after all, are not English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish rights. They are universal rights."

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:

“The First Minister of Scotland shows international leadership today. She vows to defend the Human Rights Act, the European Convention on Human Rights and the vulnerable against the powerful everywhere – including refugees. Her message leaves no room for doubt. Policies of divide and rule must not succeed in stripping us of our universal rights and freedoms.”

The First Minister also spoke about the importance of the protections granted by the European Convention of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act, and how the Scottish Government will ensure human rights protections are retained in Scotland.

The First Minister added:

“Far from being a burden on government, the European Convention of Human Rights sets out minimum standards for civilised societies that we should look to build on. The Scottish Government is doing just that, by placing social and economic rights at the heart of our policy making.

“The Scottish Government will work with everyone to make the case for the Human Rights Act – whether they are from other political parties, other devolved governments, organisations such as Liberty, Amnesty International and the Scottish Human Rights Commission, or civic society more widely.

“The cause of human rights is also the cause of social justice. Human rights are founded on the recognition that all human beings have equal worth, and that we are all entitled to the same fundamental protections and freedoms.

“We want to embed human rights, including economic and social rights, in the way we make decisions as a nation; in the way we empower individuals and communities.”

Notes to editors

See a full version of the First Minister’s speech.

Pictures and video from the speech will be available on the First Minister’s Flickr and YouTube site.

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