Human rights are for everyone, and we all benefit from upholding and strengthening human rights protections.

Uphold the Human Rights Act and European Convention on Human Rights

  • Oppose any attempt to repeal or reduce the scope of the Human Rights Act.
  • Maintain UK membership of the European Convention on and Court of Human Rights.

The UK has played a leading role in developing, advancing and embedding human rights domestically and internationally. There is much to be proud of in that history, from putting respect for human rights at the centre of European political life after the horrors of World War II, to the landmark passage of the UK’s own Human Rights Act (HRA) in 1998.

Despite this laudable record, in recent years the UK has been on a worrying trajectory in relation to human rights. Proposals to replace the Human Rights Act with a more limited Bill of Rights were deeply concerning. The ALLIANCE welcomed the abandonment of this Bill and continue to strongly oppose any revival of these plans or any attempts to otherwise repeal or reduce the scope of the Human Rights Act.

Similarly, recent rhetoric in relation to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), incorrectly describing it as a “foreign court”, has been worrying. The ECtHR is an international court, charged with Europe-wide enforcement of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which the UK was instrumental in drafting. This is a highly effective model for advancing human rights, ensuring that national governments are not left as the ultimate authority on their own compliance. The UK’s membership of the ECtHR is a fundamental cornerstone of domestic human rights protections and must be maintained.

Strengthen the existing human rights framework

  • Amend the Scotland Act to remove unintended restrictions on the Scottish Parliament’s ability to legislate for human rights.
  • Fully incorporate international human rights treaties into domestic law.
  • Ensure respect for the right to inclusive communication, particularly for people with sensory impairments.

Whilst the HRA and ECHR provide a strong framework for human rights protections, there remain opportunities to embed human rights more firmly throughout all areas of law and government. The Scottish Parliament voted unanimously for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Incorporation Act, and there are plans to incorporate more international human rights treaties into Scots law.

However, the UNCRC Act was delayed and significantly reduced in scope by a decision of the UK Supreme Court which ruled some provisions to be outwith the Scottish Parliament’s powers. This decision has been described as “wholly unexpected” and “incoherent” by Professor Aileen McHarg, who has raised concerns about the implications on the Scottish Parliament’s ability to fully incorporate other treaties.

The ALLIANCE does not believe this is an intended feature of devolution and urge parties to commit to amending the Scotland Act to remove it. We also believe international human rights treaties (UNCRC, ICESCR, UNCPRD, ICERD and CEDAW), and the right to a healthy environment, should be incorporated and applied across the UK, underpinned by adequate ability to access justice and redress in relation to rights across all public services, whether devolved or reserved.

More must be done to ensure equal access to services and information for people with sensory impairment or loss. Communication must be respected as a human right, including through the provision of accessible information and inclusive communications.

Deliver a fair immigration system that supports recruitment and upholds the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers

  • Ensure there is a supportive immigration environment for people seeking to move to the UK to work in health and social care.
  • Repeal the Rwanda Bill.
  • Ensure human rights protections are not removed from any groups or individuals.

The health and social care sectors across both Scotland and the UK benefit enormously from people choosing to move to the UK for work. Brexit has already negatively impacted the ability of the sector to recruit internationally, and this has been further impacted by additional restrictions imposed by the UK Government.

To attract and maintain the skilled workforce needed in health and social care, there must be a supportive immigration environment for people seeking to move to the UK to work in those sectors. This should include exempting workers from minimum income requirements, if those requirements are to exist at all, and restrictions on bringing spouses and dependents with them, in breach of their right to family life.

The Rwanda Bill, which seeks to disapply human rights protections for refugees and asylum seekers, must be repealed as a matter of urgency. This and any attempts to disapply the HRA or ECHR from any specific group or individuals are in direct contravention of the basic principles of human rights, and in breach of international law.

Human rights are universal and inalienable. Everyone’s human rights must be upheld, and rights must apply equally to everyone. Removing human rights protections from some individuals or groups risks subjecting people to severe abuses of their human rights and dignity. This sets a dangerous precedent that rights could be removed from other groups in the future.