Local MSP Heads Committee Call for Improvements in Parliament’s Approach to Human Rights

The Scottish Parliament should be an international leader in human rights, and adopt procedures that ensure best practice becomes standard practice, according to a new report from Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee which is chaired by local SNP MSP Ruth Maguire.

The report was launched ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights being adopted, which will take place on 10 December. It is the culmination of work carried out by the Committee in the last two years, since human rights was added to its remit.

The report outlines 40 recommendations aimed at bolstering the Scottish Parliament and MSPs’ roles as guarantors of human rights. The Committee saw this as an urgent task given the major changes to the rights landscape internationally and within the UK as we leave the EU.

Recommendations include the Parliament tracking the Scottish Government’s progress against international human rights obligations, training on human rights for MSPs and staff, and integrating human rights considerations into all parliamentary scrutiny.

Finally, the Committee is also asking the Parliament to add human rights to its remit permanently, subsuming the previous Equalities Committee, and to create ‘human rights champions’ on each Committee.

Committee Convener, Ruth Maguire MSP for Cunninghame South, said: “In the past two years, the Committee has put human rights at the heart of everything it does. With the benefit of that experience, and based on extensive inquiry work, we now want to improve the way the whole Scottish Parliament thinks about and uses human rights to improve the lives of the people of Scotland.

“The steps we are setting out will help MSPs, Parliament staff, public bodies and the Scottish Government get human rights right. Human rights are at the heart of the Scottish Parliament’s vision of being a power-sharing Parliament, but we need to make sure that vision is a reality more often.

“We want people across Scotland to understand their rights and to know how to exercise them; we want public bodies taking decisions to advance human rights; and we want Parliament to be the guarantor of those rights.

“We have lots of ideas, and lots of examples of best practice. The challenge now is to make that standard practice.”  

For further information on the Committee’s inquiry visit www.parliament.scot/ehric