In September 2022, a group of Scottish civil society organisations including the Consortium wrote to the First Minister of Scotland, expressing our concerns that the consultation on the Scottish Human Rights Incorporation Bill has been delayed.
We asked for increased capacity for the Government’s Human Rights Bill team, and for more focus to be placed on the implementation of the Bill. Furthermore, we asked for there to be sufficient cross-government engagement so that each department is involved in the aspects of the Bill which will impact their work. The Human Rights Incorporation Bill will incorporate 4 major international human rights treaties into Scots law, along with the right to a healthy environment, and so will have a huge impact on every area of government. We strongly welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to make incorporation happen, but we were disappointed that the Bill team is under-resourced and the consultation has been delayed until the first half of 2023. The Bill needs proper capacity and expertise in order to succeed in its wide-reaching goals.
The Scottish Government has now responded, with a letter from the Minister for Equalities and Older People, Christina McKelvie MSP. We remain concerned that sufficient resource and importance is given to this vital Bill. We plan to respond to the Minister to ask for more detail on the timescales for the Bill, and to ensure that implementation remains at the centre of the Scottish Government’s plans. Implementation is key to the full realisation of the rights expressed in the Bill. These rights are already part of international law, and the Scottish Government should be doing everything in its power to implement them even before the Bill is passed.