By incorporating economic, social, cultural and environmental rights directly into Scots law, this Bill will protect a range of rights including the rights to food, housing, social security, health and a healthy environment. This will also be a first for the UK, as the UK Government has consistently resisted recommendations to incorporate these rights. The Bill will also include an equality clause to ensure equal access to the incorporated rights, as far as is possible within devolved powers.
We welcome this approach and recognise the importance of bringing economic, social, cultural and environmental rights into Scots law, so that they finally become enforceable in our courts in the same way as civil and political rights. However, the Scottish Government committed to going as far as devolution would allow, and we are not convinced these proposals do so.
Further work is needed to ensure the Bill goes as far as possible to protect all our rights, including those of disabled people, black and minoritised people and women. The Consultation proposals refer to the treaties upholding rights for these groups as “the equality treaties”, ignoring the substantive rights each contains. If the proposals are followed, there will be no duty to comply with these rights and they will not be enforceable in our courts. They will be rights without a remedy.
Scotland’s Human Rights Bill: why should the Scottish Government go further?
Our Legal Director and Partner, Barbara Bolton, has produced a blog series to discuss particular areas where the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament can and should go further. With reference to more detailed sources on these topics, the series will consider:
- access to justice and the right to an effective remedy for breach of rights;
- why a ‘duty to comply’ is so important;
- incorporation of particular rights for disabled people and other groups;
- the limits of devolved competence;
- other elements.
- Our Rights Stories podcast
- Our blog series by Barbara Bolton, Legal Director and Partner: Scotland’s Human Rights Bill: an opportunity to strengthen human rights and access to justice in Scotland (justrightscotland.org.uk)
- Our blog series by Barbara Bolton, Legal Director and Partner: Scotland’s Human Rights Bill: an opportunity to strengthen human rights and access to justice in Scotland _Intro by BB (pdf version); Access to Justice and the Right to an Effective Remedy by BB (pdf version); Rights for particular groups: going as far as devolution allows by BB (pdf version)
- Our statement: JustRight Scotland: Our statement on the Scottish Human Rights Bill Consultation
- Our legal analysis: The Journal: Vol-68 Issue-09 – September 2023 | Law Society of Scotland (lawscot.org.uk)
- Our CEO’s comment piece: You can’t have a right without a remedy – TFN
- Our submitted consultation