Commission comments on plans for Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has responded to today’s Queen’s Speech announcement that the UK Government will establish a Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission.

Kavita Chetty, Head of Strategy and Legal at the Commission, said:

“We do not yet know the exact remit and scope of the Commission announced today. However, given previous threats to the Human Rights Act from the current UK Government, we have concerns about its intended purpose.

“The Human Rights Act is an important part of the UK’s constitutional framework  within which devolved powers are exercised in Scotland. In the context of Brexit and the loss of rights protections from the European Union, the Human Rights Act plays an ever more critical role in providing a threshold of protections across the UK.

“The Commission has expressed longstanding opposition to the regressive nature of previously mooted proposals to repeal and replace the Human Rights Act. This important law, and the culture of respect for people’s rights that it promotes, has had an immensely positive impact on people’s lives including in hospitals, schools, prisons, care homes and workplaces.

“The UK government today expressed its commitment to promote human rights and the rule of law internationally. That is welcome, but must also be demonstrated at a national level. This means the remit and scope of any Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission must be guided by a commitment to the highest level of protection possible for people’s rights, and respect for the rule of law. These are fundamental principles underpinning our democracy and providing state accountability where it is most required in people’s lives.

“We would also expect any Commission established to represent a diverse range of independent political, legal and societal views from all parts of the UK. Consideration of our rights and constitution are not only matters of law. They are about social values, our relationship to government at every level and, ultimately, the recognition and protection of the human dignity of all.”