Scottish Human Rights Bill plan ‘laudable but ambitious’
The Law Society of Scotland has confirmed its support for new legislation to enhance the legal protection of human rights, while warning of significant hurdles to successful implementation.
The professional body for Scottish solicitors has now made a detailed submission to the Scottish Government’s consultation on its plans for a Human Rights Bill.
Plans for the new legislation – intended to incorporate a range of economic, social and cultural rights into Scots law – were announced in the Programme for Government delivered by Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf last month.
Law Society of Scotland President Sheila Webster said: “The Scottish legal profession strongly believes in the value of legally protected human rights, and that people in Scotland should be aware of their rights and able to exercise them to the full extent of the law.
“The Scottish Government’s plans to create a new framework for embedding international human rights in Scotland are highly laudable, but they are also extremely ambitious and complex. There are a number of issues and potential pitfalls that will need to be overcome.
“Of key concern for us is how a Scottish Human Rights Bill will co-exist with existing legislation such as the Human Rights Act, how the rights will be enforced and what access people living in Scotland will have to these new rights in practice.
“The Scottish Government is right to acknowledge that access to legal aid is an important aspect in supporting rights-holders to claim their rights through the courts. New legislation must be supported by adequate funding to ensure that legal aid is available to those who need it.
“The Law Society is pleased to see consideration given to better securing and enforcing environmental rights in Scotland, but we don’t see how it’s possible to have a right to a healthy environment that doesn’t give proper regard to the impact of climate change."