SNAP Leadership Panel write to the Smith Commission
Members of the Leadership Panel for Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights have written to the Smith Commission, drawing attention to human rights considerations in the context of devolving further powers.
Dear Lord Smith
Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP) is a roadmap towards a Scotland where everyone can live with human dignity – where all internationally recognised human rights are realised in people’s lives.
SNAP, launched on Dec 10 2013 with broad cross-party and international support, is guided and supported by a Leadership Panel, drawn from across the public sector and civil society, all of whom have a keen interest in the outcome of the Smith Commission’s work. As members of the Leadership Panel*, we would like to draw the Commission’s attention to the importance of human rights considerations when it comes to devolving further powers to the Scottish Parliament.
During the referendum debate, questions of democracy, participation, equality, social justice and fairness were at the heart of many people’s discussions about the kind of Scotland they wanted to see. Human rights provide a legal framework for realising these values and principles. We would like to stress the importance of building on Scotland’s existing commitment to respecting, protecting and fulfilling international human rights, as expressed through SNAP.
In this regard we wish to emphasise a number of key considerations.
Firstly, it is very important to fulfil the right of the people of Scotland to participate in the process of considering further devolution of powers and wider constitutional reform. While we recognise the pressures of time that the Smith Commission is working under, we must stress the importance of ensuring meaningful engagement with the population as a whole as any future process unfolds.
Secondly, there must be no regression in the level of protection for human rights that currently exists in Scotland. All possible measures must be taken, throughout the process of devolving further powers to Scotland, to ensure that the constitutional framework of protection for human rights, as provided by the Scotland Act, remains in place.
Thirdly, consideration should be given to mechanisms that would secure further progression towards realising a broader range of internationally recognised human rights, including children’s rights, within Scotland. This would ensure that all of us can continue to build on the commitments to action that have been secured from many Scottish public bodies, government departments and civil society partners and that SNAP can continue to be delivered successfully.
The SNAP Leadership Panel would welcome the opportunity to meet with the Smith Commission to discuss in more detail the human rights considerations we have highlighted.
Professor Alan Miller, Chair, Scottish Human Rights Commission
Dr. Alison Elliot, Former Convenor of Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
Alex Cole-Hamilton Chair, Together - The Children’s Rights Alliance for Scotland
Alison Petch, Director, Institute of Research and Innovation in Social Services
Dr. Andrew Fraser, Director of Public Health Science, NHS Health Scotland
Annette Bruton, Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate
Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary, Scottish Trades Union Congress
Ian Welsh, Chief Executive, Health and Social Care ALLIANCE
John Hutchison MBE, Chair, Scottish Rural Parliament
John Scott QC, Vice Chair, JUSTICE Scotland Executive Committee; Vice President, Society of Solicitor Advocates
John Wilkes, Chief Executive, Scottish Refugee Council
Judith Robertson, Director, see me; Chair, Scottish Refugee Council
Kaliani Lyle, Scotland Commissioner, Equality and Human Rights Commission
Dr. Lindsay Burley CBE, Chair, Scottish Association for Mental Health
Marsha Scott, Chair, Engender
Rev. Martin Johnstone, Priority Areas Secretary, Church of Scotland; Secretary, Poverty Truth Commission
Dr. Rowena Arshad OBE, Head of the Institute of Education, Community and Society, University of Edinburgh
Sally Witcher, CEO, Inclusion Scotland
Siobhan Reardon, Programme Director - Scotland, Amnesty International UK
Professor Tahseen Jafry, Director, GCU Centre for Climate Justice
Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People
Tim Hopkins, Director, Equality Network