UK Bill of Rights condemned

Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie

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Call for Scottish Parliament to be consulted.

PROPOSALS to repeal the Human Rights Act are a “shocking and unnecessary” attempt to remove safeguards afforded to every member of society, Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie has said.

Putting on record the Scottish Government’s unequivocal opposition to the UK Government’s Bill of Rights, published today, Ms McKelvie stressed that the Scottish Parliament would have to agree to any changes affecting the devolution settlement.

Ms McKelvie said:

“This shocking and unnecessary legislation seeks to put UK Ministers above some of the most fundamental checks and balances that underpin our democracy.

“The fact remains that we do not need a new Bill of Rights. The Human Rights Act is one of the most important laws passed by the UK Parliament. For more than 20 years it has delivered fairness and justice – protecting our rights to privacy and liberty, freedom of expression and peaceful protest. It has prevented discrimination, inhumanity and the abuse of power.

“The UK Government’s Rwanda policy has been challenged in the European Court of Human Rights. This legislation appears to be part of its response – an attempt to remove safeguards protecting every member of our society.

“As a founding signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights, the UK Government should be championing international human rights standards and the rule of law. Instead its Ministers appear intent on damaging the UK’s global reputation.

“I would urge them to stop this act of vandalism which will have an impact on public bodies that must adhere to it. The UK Government must also remain fully committed to the European Convention on Human Rights and to membership of the Council of Europe.

“The Human Rights Act is built into the heart of the devolution settlement, and any legislation that breaches the Act has no force in law. Let me make clear that it would therefore be wholly unacceptable to make changes affecting Scotland without the explicit agreement of the Scottish Parliament.

“I am proud that the Scottish Government is treading a different path, showing human rights leadership by protecting and enhancing our rights and freedoms, with plans for future Scottish legislation to extend devolved human rights safeguards even further.”

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