Protecting our human rights after the EU referendum

The political landscape has shifted following the UK vote to leave the European Union. Changes to the laws and institutions that govern us are likely to follow.  It is more important than ever to affirm our commitment to protecting human rights.

The 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union has shone a light on issues of inequality, poverty, exclusion and discrimination which demand a response based on the human rights and equality of all. The Commission is concerned by media reports of incidents of racism, hate crime, xenophobia and intolerance. The Commission hopes that people in Scotland and across the UK unite in celebration of our diversity and respect afforded to all who live here.      

Dignity, fairness and equality, protected by human rights law, should underpin how governments, local authorities and private companies respond to the immediate challenges at the forefront of people’s lives.  Addressing inequality and realising peoples' rights, such as the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to education, housing and healthcare services must be a priority of all governments according to the international framework of human rights laws that the UK has signed and ratified. In the immediate period of economic uncertainty there is an obligation to ensure that economic and social rights are not eroded and that the most marginalised and vulnerable in society are not hit the hardest.

A UK exit of the European Union is anticipated to lead to a loss of the protections afforded by the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. Nevertheless we retain our membership of the Council of Europe and the protections afforded by the European Convention on Human Rights through our Human Rights Act and Scotland Act.