JustCitizens respond to the Scottish Human Rights Bill Consultation

a board with some key concepts on paper

We recently met to discuss and respond to the Scottish Government’s recent consultation on the Scottish Human Rights Bill. We, first, had an info-session on the Bill, led by JustRight Scotland’s policy officer, who outlined the contents of the proposed legislation, the foundational elements of the bill, the limits, and where there is scope for improvement. We took some time and space to ask questions and clarify with each other, our position on what the government has proposed. 

Although we welcome the Scottish Government’s attempts at embedding international human rights treaties into domestic law, we do worry about the lack of ambition that is shown when it comes to ensuring equal access to rights for marginalised communities – especially racialised groups, migrants, and asylum seekers.  

We find it concerning that there will be no procedural duty to uphold legislation related to racial justice and women’s rights. This is especially because the intersection of these categories, along with disability and economic vulnerability, means that racialised people, and women, are a greater risk of human rights violations and abuses than others. If these groups are not being centred in legislation and protected in an accessible and realistic way, we believe that this legislation will not ensure the safety of our communities. We worry that we will once again be forgotten. 

We followed up these discussions in a second set of meetings, led by the participation officer at the Scottish Human Rights Consortium. We talked, in detail, about specific aspects of the consultation and how they related to migrant rights, and concluded that although this consultation is a good start, it does not go far enough. We think that marginalised communities need to be centred in this work from day 1. We do not want to be an after-thought, or something to be incorporated in later stages. Some of our thoughts are included below: 

“An important question we need to ask ourselves is one of power. Who defines which human rights are protected and how they will be implemented and measured?”

“Human Rights on paper are brilliant, but the truth of the matter is that practically is a different story”

“Human Rights currently work in favour of certain groups at the expense of others, usually more marginalised communities”

“Human Rights only seem to work if you have a passport”

“People don’t know their rights, people don’t know what MCOs are. Why not transform this consultation into an accessible consultation by co-collaborating with community groups and local communities, co-producing content with groups so that this content is more accessible and available in other places not only the official website?”

You can read our views on the consultation in full in our joint submission with other lived experience groups of migrants in Scotland, with thanks to the Scottish Human Rights Consortium for facilitating this work, and for their dedicated time and effort. You can read this submission here.