A four pronged action plan should be taken up by the Scottish Parliament and Government to make good deficits in human rights, according to the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

In a submission to the latest United Nations (UN) Periodic Review of human rights across the UK, released to mark International Hman Rights Day, the Commission claims that a number of international human rights standards and recommendations have not yet been met in Scotland. 

It maintains that despite the Scottish Government's support for human rights in government and its opposition to the repeal of the Human Rights Act, "significant human rights challenges continue to be felt in people’s day-to-day lives in areas like poverty, health, education, social care, disability and detention".

The Commission's priorities for action are:

  • incorporating all UN human rights treaties by strengthening their enforceability in law;
  • putting the standards and principles of human rights at the heart of policy making, spending decisions, monitoring and accountability of all public bodies and in exercising new powers devolved to Scotland;
  • committing further to strengthening Scotland’s National Action Plan on Human Rights (SNAP); and
  • addressing specific human rights issues including those affecting Gypsies and Travellers, people accessing social care services, and those in detention.

Judith Robertson, chair of the Commission, commented: “The Commission wants to see progress where it really counts – in people’s everyday lives. To achieve this the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament must go further in systematically responding to the recommendations from the UN and integrating a human rights based approach into all law and policy making.

“The Commission welcomes the positive statements and support shown for human rights in recent years by both the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. We are now calling on the Scottish Parliament to step up and do more to fulfil its obligations as a guarantor of people’s rights in Scotland. And we want to see the Scottish Government fully implement the UN’s previous recommendations – and indeed go further in demonstrating international best practice in its commitment to the protection of people’s rights in Scotland.

"This means taking action to incorporate international human rights treaties into Scotland’s laws, doing more to explicitly put human rights at the heart of policy making – for example when it comes to new social security powers – and addressing the inequalities in realising rights experienced by specific groups in Scotland."

Click here for a summary of the Commission's report. The UN will set out its final findings and recommendations in March 2017.