MSPs have begun their scrutiny of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, by issuing an invitation for public comment.

Holyrood’s Equalities & Human Rights Committee has issued a call for views on the bill to incorporate the Convention, the UNCRC, into Scots law, as the bill enters stage 1 of its parliamentary progress.

The bill will require public authorities – including Scottish ministers – to respect children’s rights, placing them under a duty not to act incompatibly with the Convention, which was ratified by the UK in 1991 but which until it becomes part of domestic law is binding in international law only. Ministers will also be required to make a Children’s Rights Scheme to set out how they will comply with the duty.

Children and their representatives will be able to challenge public authorities in court for infringing their rights, and the bill will allow the courts to strike down legislation that is incompatible with any UNCRC requirements.

The Children and Young People’s Commissioner in Scotland will have power to litigate in the public interest about the Convention.

Committee convener Ruth Maguire MSP commented: “The UNCRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world and this bill aims to incorporate the treaty into domestic law so that all children in Scotland – whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion or abilities – have their rights respected.

“We want to hear from children and young people, as well from public authorities and third sector organisations, about whether they think this legislation will make it easier for children to access and enforce their rights. Children have different experiences and backgrounds, so we want to explore the existing barriers which currently prevent young people from making sure their rights are respected.

“We also want to consider whether the bill goes far enough and if there is anything more that can be done to make children’s rights stronger in Scotland.”

Click here to access the submission form. The closing date for responses is Friday 16 October 2020. The bill is expected to be passed before the end of the current session of the Parliament next March.