Commission reports to the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee

Members of the Commission Claire Methven O’Brien, Jim Farish and Shelley Gray attended the Scottish Parliament on 16th January 2024, alongside Executive Director Jan Savage.  They gave evidence to the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee on the Commission’s Annual Report and Accounts for the year 2022-23.

During the session, the Members of the Commission noted the organisation’s role as human rights watchdog for the people of Scotland, and its work to bring a renewed focus on its purpose, priorities, visibility, impact and engagement. This has been centred on the Commission’s mandate as a public body tasked with protecting and promoting human rights in Scotland.

Executive Director Jan Savage presented the Committee with further detail on a year of significant change and positive development. She said:

“The Commission has undertaken a major programme of strategic and operational transformation. This is focused on internal change to promote stronger governance and stability as a public body and support a new work programme, more externally focused, using our mandate to shift our priorities from reactive policy analysis to more proactive work to address human rights violations and denials in communities across Scotland – and really working to address the accountability gap in Scotland as it has presented itself to the Commission.

“Outputs of the Commission this year have highlighted the scale of that accountability gap in many significant ways. We have begun work on four new ‘Spotlight Projects’ to highlight the lived experiences of people across Scotland and show us where human rights are not being met.

“At the moment, we are looking at that in places of detention, including long term detention under the Mental Health Act; in the complexity of the current Access to Justice system across Scotland; and in communities out of Edinburgh, this year taking the Commission to the Highlands and Islands, engaging directly with people. We are now looking forward to delivering our new Strategic Plan for 2024-2028”.

Notes to editors: A full transcript of the Commission's evidence in front of the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee can be viewed on the Scottish Parliament website.