Make Human Rights Justice a Reality
If Scotland is to be a country where everyone’s human rights are protected and realised, then everyone must be able to access justice for human rights violations. Access to remedy must be affordable, accessible, effective, timely and person-centred.
But, for too many people, it is just incredibly difficult to access rights remedy.
This must change.
Here are 13 Calls to Action to make human rights justice a reality for all. Will you support them?
- Put all of our human rights into law: It is time to incorporate all of our international human rights into Scots law. There includes placing a strong compliance duty on as many rights as possible within devolution including disabled people’s rights.
- Ensure everyone knows their rights and how to get them: To empower individuals to know and understand their rights, and how to access them, we need a step-change in availability of human rights information and advice. A National Network for Human Rights Information, Education, Legal Services, and Advice should be co-produced and resourced.
- Ensure inclusive communications across the system: Action is needed to eliminate barriers faced by people with specific communication, translation, and interpreter requirements across the justice system.
- Provide independent advocacy for all: Independent advocacy is a crucial support for many people navigating routes to remedy. It is time to make these services available to all who need them to access human rights justice, no matter who they are.
- Develop effective non-court routes to justice: Access to effective remedy should not depend on going to court. Scotland needs effective, timely, and supportive non-court avenues to human rights remedies.
- Improve people’s experience of going to court: Specialised court rules for human rights and equality cases are needed to enhance the experience of rights holders within the legal process.
- Remove unfair timescales: End unrealistic court time limits, including the three-month limit for Judicial Review cases, to ensure that justice is not rushed and that individuals have ample time to prepare for, and pursue, court cases.
- Value NGO-led public interest litigation: Barriers to NGO-led strategic litigation, including issues related to courts accepting cases brought by charities, should be eliminated to bolster civil society’s role in upholding human rights.
- Ensure effective remedies for human rights breaches: The introduction of judicial remedies for human rights and equality infringements that address individual grievances while also promoting broader structural change is recommended to ensure meaningful redress.
- Introduce radical reform of legal aid: Reform of the legal aid system must be prioritised, with a commitment to publishing a consultation on necessary legislative changes in 2024.
- Remove financial barriers to justice: Remove court fees and introduce protection from awards of expenses for all cases raising human rights and equality issues.
- Strengthen accountability bodies: Regulatory and scrutiny bodies responsible for human rights oversight should be equipped with the necessary duties, powers, and resources to effectively deliver accountability and prevent further breaches.
- Ensure duty bearers take a human rights-based approach: All stakeholders involved in human rights remedy and accountability should receive comprehensive training and assessment in taking a human rights-based approach.
Want to find out more?
Read the accompanying report from Human Rights Consortium Scotland, JustRight Scotland, Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland, Poverty Alliance, Shelter Scotland, CLAN Childlaw and Justice.
Listen to ‘Make Human Rights Justice a Reality: Executive Summary’ (audio version)
Listen to ‘Lived Experience Report: Introduction’ (audio version)
Please support these calls! If you are from a civil society organisation, we are asking you to support these Calls to Action. Please send your organisation’s logo to firstname.lastname@example.org to pledge your support.
If you would like to, you can also email us 2-3 sentences explaining why you support action on access to human rights justice.
Want to get more information, or chat about this? Get in touch at email@example.com