Commission concerned about rights to freedom of assembly and association at the Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has written to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (the SPCB), expressing concern that the SPCB’s recent decision to alter the status of the Scottish Parliament building and its grounds interferes with the rights to peaceful assembly and association.

In June this year, the SPCB requested that the Home Office designate the Scottish Parliament as a site under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (the Act). In response, the Home Office signed an order designating the Scottish Parliament building and its grounds as a site subject to an offence under Section 129 of the Act, the Scottish equivalent of the English offence of trespass.

The Commission is concerned that this change in the Parliament’s status could have a very significant impact on the ability of people in Scotland to exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.

In a letter to Alison Johnstone MSP, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and chair of the SPCB, the Commission highlights the importance of people being able to demonstrate close to the Scottish Parliament, where important decisions on policy and law are made.

The Commission highlights its concern that the change of status to the Parliament has been arranged without apparent public consultation, or transparent assessment of the human rights issues engaged. The Commission urges the SPCB to publish a full human rights assessment of its decision.

Read the full letter.