What we do
The functions of the Commission are set out in the Scottish Commission for Human Rights Act (2006) (the Act). Under the Act the Commission has a general duty to promote awareness, understanding and respect for all human rights - economic, social, political, cultural and civil - to everyone, everywhere in Scotland, and to encourage best practice in relation to human rights. You can read the Act at this link.
The Commission also has a number of powers. These include:
The power to conduct inquiries into the policies or practices of Scottish public authorities, either those working to deliver a particular service, or public authorities of a particular description i.e. those working on certain issues or a particular description.
The ability to provide education, training and awarenessraising, and by publishing research.
Recommending such changes to Scottish law, policy and practice as it considers necessary.
The power to enter some places of detention as part of an inquiry, and the power to intervene in civil court cases where relevant to the promotion of human right and where the case appears to raise a matter of public interest.
The Commission is under a duty to ensure it is not duplicating work that others already carry out.
The Commission promotes and protects the human rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, which forms part of the law of Scotland through the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Scotland Act 1998, as well as other human rights which are guaranteed by international conventions ratified by the UK.
The Commission also has an international role as the national human rights institution (NHRI) for Scotland. NHRIs are independent organisations, established by law, to promote and and protect human rights. The Commission is one of over 80 NHRIs around the world, and one of three in the UK, alongside the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The Commission is now in its second Strategic Plan, which covers the period 2012 - 2016.
The five Strategic Priorities the Commission will work to are:
1. Empowering people to realise their rights through promoting greater awareness and respect for human rights.
2. Supporting the implementation of human rights in practice.
3. Improving human rights protection in Scotland through influencing law and policy.
4. Progressing the realisation of human rights of people in Scotland and beyond through further developing our international role.
5. Ensuring the Commission is effective, efficient, professional and accountable.
Read the second Strategic Plan in PDF format
Read the second Strategic Plan in plain text Word format
You can read about our progress in our latest Annual Report: