“Stand firm on the Human Rights Act”, Commission urges MSPs

As MSPs debate human rights in the Scottish Parliament today, the Scottish Human Rights Commission has urged politicians from all parties to show leadership in their support for the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

In an advance briefing to MSPs, the Commission highlighted their benefits as the “legislative bedrock for realising human rights in people’s everyday lives”.

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Commission, said:

“The Human Rights Act and European Convention benefit us in ways we do not always realise. They have been used to challenge the unfair impact of the “bedroom tax”, uphold the principle of human dignity in care services and protect children from assault. From protecting soldiers serving in battle to challenging prison conditions that have no place in a decent society, the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights provide a safety net for everyone.

“They enshrine internationally agreed standards that all governments should respect. The European Convention provides protection to hundreds of millions of people in 47 countries across Europe. Its achievements include challenging abuses of rights and raising the bar in countries like Russia and Turkey with poor human rights records. This is something to be proud of.

“As proposals for a new “British Bill of Rights” continue to be mooted, the Commission is clear – they must be resisted. Any attempt to limit accountability for the exercise of power, as these proposals would clearly do, would undermine the principle of the rule of law, go against the spirit of democratic renewal and set a dangerous precedent to other states.”

The Commission also highlighted the importance of Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP) as a “vital roadmap” for embedding protection for human rights, including a broader range of United Nations treaty obligations, into policy and practice across Scotland.

Professor Miller continued,

“Next month will mark the first anniversary of the launch of SNAP – the first ever action plan for human rights in the UK. Over forty organisations from across Scottish public and civic life are now working together to take action to improve the reality of human rights in people’s lives and to build a stronger culture of human rights in Scotland. This is remarkable progress – although there is much work still to do. Continued support for SNAP is crucial and reinforces the need for politicians of all parties to stand firm on upholding Scotland’s international human rights commitments.”


  1. The Scottish Human Rights Commission is an independent public body with a remit to promote and protect human rights for everyone in Scotland. It is accredited within the UN as an A-status national human rights institution.
  2. The full briefing for MSPs is available on the Commission’s website at Policy & Publications | Scottish Human Rights Commission
  3. The Commission chairs the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions, which is made up of 40 human rights bodies from across Europe. The Commission is also vice chair of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions.
  4. The Commission represented Scotland on the Advisory Panel to the UK Government’s Commission on a British Bill of Rights. In itsevidence the Commission emphatically rejected the need for a British or UK Bill of Rights.
  5. To arrange an interview with Professor Alan Miller or for other media enquiries, please contact Emma Hutton (emma.hutton@scottishhumanrights.com or 07833 402289).