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.  

Yours sincerely 

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

Louise MacDonald

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