The Consortium recently held a Q&A session with the Scottish Government Human Rights Bill Team on Thursday 14th September. During our It’s All Rights Sessions, we were met with various questions which were best placed for the Bill Team to answer. Some of these were asked on the day, as well as questions from the audience during the session.
It is important to note that during this session, the government told us that they were open to receiving responses to the consultation and its questions in a format that worked for the person submitting. This could mean emailing your thoughts in whatever format or language is appropriate for you to HumanRightsOffice@gov.scot
Here are the key takeaways:
Commitment to the Bill:
- The Scottish Government remains committed to passing the Human Rights Bill.
- The Bill is scheduled to be introduced before the Summer Recess in June 2024.
Consultation and Bill Process:
- There will not be a consultation on a draft Bill due to tight timelines.
- The government is open to accommodating different languages and formats for responses to the consultation – they have encouraged everyone to respond in a way and format which is suitable to their preferences.
Interaction with Other Laws and Policies:
- The government is considering how the Human Rights Bill will interact with existing legislation and is exploring options like linking Bill rights to the interpretation of domestic legislation.
- Measures will be introduced to resolve conflicts between the Bill and other legislation.
Interaction with UNCRC:
- The government is working closely with colleagues in the UNCRC space to align the Bill with UNCRC principles.
- Specific considerations regarding age for children and young people will be addressed during the UNCRC Bill implementation.
Right to a Healthy Environment:
- Global businesses headquartered in Scotland could face legal action under the Bill if they perform a public function related to a devolved area of law.
- The Scottish Government’s international policy efforts will consider the Bill’s implications.
Details of Proposals in the Consultation:
- The government is open to changing its position regarding the duty to comply with CRPD rights and is seeking feedback on this issue.
- Balancing the application of different treaty rights is a complex challenge.
Duty-Bearers and Charities:
- Duty-bearers will include Scottish public authorities providing devolved public services.
- Private actors delivering public services under a contract may also be considered duty-bearers.
- The Bill aims to ensure equal access to human rights, but its scope is limited to powers held by the Scottish Government.
- Specific considerations for Care-Experienced people will be considered.
- While there is no agreed international definition of dignity, the Bill will draw from various international sources.
- Clear guidance will be provided to duty-bearers on the concept of dignity.
Access to Justice:
- The Bill’s duties will not have retrospective effect.
- Structural racism will be addressed through embedding rights in public services and complaint processes.
Time Limit on Judicial Review:
- The government is considering options, including a “stop the clock” provision, to extend the time limit for judicial review.
Non-Judicial Routes and Legal Aid:
- The government recognises the need for certain issues to go to court and aims to provide suitable forums for different matters.
- Legal aid reform is under consideration, but it is not tied to the Bill timeline.
- Independent advocacy is seen as essential to ensure voices are heard.
- The government is examining advocacy as one of the supports required.
Information and Capacity-Building:
- Efforts will be made to inform public bodies about the Bill and its requirements.
- Implementation will involve an executive board and engagement with relevant organisations.
Leadership and Diversity:
- The government is committed to diversity and inclusion on lived experience boards/advisory groups, and in addressing systemic racism.
Participating in the consultation is crucial as it offers rights-holders in Scotland a unique opportunity to shape the direction of the Scottish Human Rights Bill and ensure that their voices are heard in this significant legislative process.
With the consultation deadline set for Thursday 5th October, time is of the essence, and your input matters. For those who are members of HRCS, you’re encouraged to support our collective response. For more information on this, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org