Commission responds to Queen's Speech announcement on British Bill of Rights
The Scottish Human Rights Commission has responded to today’s Queen’s Speech announcement that the UK Government will bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights.
The Commission’s Chair, Professor Alan Miller, said:
“The Commission has long been clear that any changes to our human rights laws must pass a very simple test: do they take us forwards or back?
“While we will examine any legislative proposals in detail, the Commission repeats its long-standing concerns about the regressive nature of many elements of previous proposals for a British Bill of Rights. These have included enabling the UK to pick and choose which judgments to accept from the European Court of Human Rights, reducing the scope of human rights laws so that they only apply to “the most serious” cases, or to particular areas of law, and restricting the eligibility of rights on the basis of nationality or citizenship. Any and all of these changes would fly in the face of progressive protection for human rights and would have adverse consequences for people in Scotland.
“The Commission has repeatedly highlighted the positive impact of the Human Rights Act on people’s lives in Scotland. From improving standards of care in hospitals to providing redress for the families of soldiers killed in combat due to inadequate protective equipment, the Human Rights Act protects fifteen well-established fundamental rights and freedoms. These rights - like the right to life, free speech and protection from inhuman and degrading treatment in care or custody - are minimum standards across Europe, agreed by the UK and other countries in the post-war era as the basic protections needed in modern democracies.
“Changing our human rights laws is of significant constitutional and social importance and should be considered as part of a broad and participative public process. This cannot be rushed. Debates about human rights are not only about matters of law. They are about social values, democratic renewal and, ultimately, the recognition and protection of the human dignity of all.”
The Commission has published a series of Frequently Asked Questions about possible changes to the UK’s human rights laws. This is available as an online resource for interested members of the public and civil society organisations.
To arrange an interview with Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Commission, contact Emma Hutton on 07833 402289 or email@example.com