Want to know more? Here are some Frequently Asked Questions.
Q. What are human rights and why are they important?
Human rights are the basic protections that everyone has. They are internationally agreed, and they are about the basics that we all need. They are for everyone, no matter who you are or where you are from.
Want to find out more?
Watch this short film about human rights
A handy timeline of human rights in the UK, produced by Each Other
Q. What difference will this new human rights law make?
We all have international human rights. However, only some of them are currently in our own law in Scotland. Incorporating them into Scots law will mean that public authorities will have an explicit requirement to take all of them into account, affecting their culture, decision-making and priority-setting. People who face human rights infringements will be able to get remedy. Importantly, it will mean that individuals’ human rights will ultimately be enforceable in court.
Our human rights are very practical and affect us everyday. They include things like freedoms not to be locked up without good reason, to have your own beliefs and talk about them, and to not be treated inhumanely by government. They include the basics we all need to live, such as adequate housing, affordable food and the right to the highest attainable level of physical or mental health.
Q. Why has a National Taskforce on Human Rights been set up? What does it do?
The First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership reported in December 2018. Its recommendations included that Scotland should have a new human rights law that would incorporate internationally-recognised human rights into Scots law. This would include economic, social and cultural rights, the right to a healthy environment, and rights for specific groups.
The Taskforce has been set up to develop these proposals further, including through wider public participation.
Q. Who is on the Taskforce?
The Taskforce is co-chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP and Prof Alan Miller. It includes a number of different organisations and individuals, including the Law Society, Public Health Scotland, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, and the Human Rights Consortium Scotland. You can see the full list here.
Q. How can I find out more about what the Taskforce is doing?
You can see agendas and minutes from Taskforce meetings here.
If you would like to know more about the different discussions and roundtables that the Taskforce has held with a wide range of groups and individuals, email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are from civil society and want to keep up-to-date with developments around this new human rights law, you may want to become a member of the Human Rights Consortium Scotland or get their enewsletter – see www.hrcscotland.org
Q. How can I give my views to the Taskforce?
The All Our Rights in Law project is now complete, and we cannot accept new submissions. We are currently gathering all the submissions to give to the Taskforce, to inform their recommendations to the Scottish Government. If you would like to be kept up to date with the latest developments, please email Rebecca@hrcscotland.org
Q. What opportunities will ordinary people have to comment on the recommendations from the Taskforce?
The Taskforce will report to the Scottish Government by March 2021. After that, it is planned that there will be a Scottish Bill policy consultation. If you would like to keep in touch with other opportunities to give your views, email us at Rebecca@hrcscotland.org
Q. This law will have an impact on public authorities like councils and the NHS. What will the Taskforce or Government do to help them to follow the new law?
The Taskforce is meeting with a wide range of stakeholders including a public sector reference group around what capacity building activity will be required to help public authorities to fulfil new duties under this law. It is also proposed that the law would be accompanied by statutory guidance and the Taskforce is actively engaging with stakeholders around what should be in this Guidance.
Q. Why is the Convention on the Rights of the Child is being incorporated now? What is the Taskforce doing around incorporating all the treaties for different groups?
A Bill to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been long-awaited and is in many ways, the first step to deliver a radical blueprint for human rights legislation covering all areas of devolved responsibility.
The Taskforce is considering how best to incorporate the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women into domestic legislation. A reference group is being set up to advise on this.
In addition, the Taskforce will also actively consider the incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People and the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination, working closely with key stakeholders in these sectors.
Q. If we have this new human rights law, will we not have the Human Rights Act in Scotland?
The Human Rights Act 1998 will continue to apply in Scotland – in fact, this new law might repeat it to make this clear. The Human Rights Act is a vital protection for all of us.