A Human Rights Bill for Scotland: consultation analysis

The independent analysis by Alma Economics of responses to the consultation on A Human Rights Bill for Scotland, commissioned by Scottish Government.

9. General themes of the consultation responses

This section provides an overview of emerging themes identified across all consultation questions. The themes presented in this section are not necessarily the most prevalent in all responses to each question. However, they are the themes that were consistently raised by respondents throughout the consultation questions.

Request for further clarification and guidance

The request for further clarification and guidance on specific topics and areas was commonly mentioned among respondents throughout the consultation. Respondents expressed confusion with specific terms used as well as with the proposals made throughout the Bill. Among those who mentioned this theme, there were also respondents who stated that their views on the proposals were conditional to further clarifications being provided.

Respondents typically held the view that further clarification would facilitate the interpretation of the Bill’s provisions by all stakeholders. Therefore, they argued that explanatory guidance would ensure the consistent understanding and interpretation of the rights of all stakeholders, including rights-holders and duty-bearers. Specific terms that respondents requested further clarification on included dignity, safe climate, clean air, public functions, sufficient interest, and reasonableness. Respondents requested guidance on the procedural elements of the right to a healthy environment, the duties, the proposed equality provision, the implementation of MCOs, and the process for seeking recourse through non-judicial routes (e.g. the SPSO). Respondents held the view that any guidance provided should be accessible and easy to understand.

Request for resources and support for capacity-building

Another theme identified throughout the consultation responses was the request for resources and support from the Scottish Government for capacity-building. Respondents commonly called for the provision of support (including financial assistance) to duty-bearers, scrutiny bodies as well as advice and advocacy services. A few respondents also requested that support should be provided to the third sector specifically. Respondents stated that these stakeholders may currently face resource constraints that will inhibit their ability to adjust their processes to adhere to the Bill's provisions. Funding, resources and training were also requested for the SHRC. Respondents expressed that the SHRC does not currently have sufficient resources to effectively perform its functions, hence, they argued that adding new functions and duties without additional resources would be ineffective.

Safeguarding the rights of specific groups of people

Another emerging theme identified across all questions in the consultation was the need to safeguard the rights of specific groups of people. These groups included LGBTI people, disabled people, older people, children, ethnic minorities, women, people in care and care experienced people and people with mental health issues. Respondents typically held the view that these groups are most vulnerable to violations of their human rights and therefore, provisions should be in place to specifically protect their rights. Respondents expressed that there should be greater consideration for the dignity of people with different protected characteristics, especially when it comes to accessing the courts and justice system. They also held the view that the need to protect the rights of these individuals should be reflected in the equality provision and that the intersectionality of the characteristics should be considered. Respondents argued that any provisions regarding advocacy, legal aid and complaints handling should specifically consider and refer to the aforementioned groups.

General disagreement with the Bill

Another emerging theme identified across the responses involved specific views disagreeing with the Bill overall. This theme was predominantly raised by individual respondents. The most common views under this theme were that the Bill is unnecessary and that it is outwith the Scottish Government’s devolved competence. Respondents who raised this theme argued that existing UK legislation, such as the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010, are sufficient legislation for human rights. Respondents argued that the proposed Bill would be redundant and cause confusion on human rights legislation. A small number of respondents expressed that this would have negative consequences on the safeguarding of human rights overall. Another view held by respondents who expressed general disagreement with the Bill was that it goes beyond the devolved competence of the Scottish Government and that human rights legislation should be UK-wide.


Email: humanrightsoffice@gov.scot

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