Children’s rights organisations have received a response from the Scottish Government regarding their concerns over the lack of progress in amending and commencing the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill.
In the initial letter, the organisations welcomed the consultation on the Human Rights Bill for Scotland and commended the government’s commitment to strengthening human rights legislation. However, they expressed dismay over the delay in addressing the UNCRC Bill.
In response, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Shirley-Anne Somerville, acknowledged the complexities surrounding the UNCRC Bill. The government has been carefully considering the application of the compatibility duty when public authorities deliver services under Acts of the UK Parliament in devolved areas. This consideration has led to a need for amendments to ensure the Bill’s legality and effectiveness.
The Cabinet Secretary confirmed that the UNCRC Bill is now undergoing a Parliamentary Reconsideration process. The proposed amendments will be assessed for admissibility under Standing Orders, with the government aiming to present them to Parliament shortly after the summer recess and before the end of the Human Rights consultation period.
While the proposed amendments will result in a loss of coverage for children’s rights compared to the original aspirations, the government has said it is confident that the revised Bill will provide valuable protections for children’s rights and advance human rights legislation in Scotland.
In response to the organisations’ request, the government has committed to commissioning an audit of UK Acts in devolved areas impacting children’s rights to identify opportunities for inclusion in the scope of the compatibility duty. The Cabinet Secretary assured the prioritisation of the UNCRC Bill and aims to have a revised version passed before the end of the calendar year.
As the Scottish Government grapples with the complexities of incorporating the UNCRC into Scots law, stakeholders and children’s rights advocates are closely monitoring the developments, hoping for a comprehensive and robust legal framework to safeguard the rights of Scotland’s children and young people.