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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-05525: Liam McArthur (Orkney Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 13 December 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to strengthen the Scottish National Action Plan on Human Rights and how it ensures that international human rights treaties are enforced in Scotland.

Answered by: Angela Constance 9 January 2017

Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP) is a co-produced initiative which pursues the shared vision of a Scotland where everyone is able to live with human dignity. SNAP was launched jointly in 2013 by the Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC), the then Deputy First Minister and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Scottish Government contributes to the work of SNAP in a variety of ways and values the potential which it offers for enhanced collaboration between SNAP partners, including the SHRC, public sector institutions, the private sector, the third sector, and contributors from across the whole of Scottish civil society. The Scottish Government commented on proposals for the future of SNAP which were prepared by the SHRC and presented to a meeting of SNAP partners held on 31 October 2016. The Scottish Government has also offered to assist the SHRC in taking an Improvement approach to SNAP, with a view to supporting practical delivery and enabling progress to be measured.

The Scottish Government is directly accountable to the Scottish Parliament for the action it takes to give effect to human rights obligations in Scotland. It also participates actively in international human rights monitoring mechanisms run by both the United Nations and the Council of Europe.

Examinations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) were held during 2016. Scotland’s record will be further examined at the United Nations in 2017 under the Universal Periodic Review. An examination under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is expected later in the year. State party reports under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) will also be submitted in 2017.

Recent Scottish Government-led activity designed to achieve the further and better implementation of human rights in Scotland has included: a Disability Delivery Plan linked to the UNCRPD; a Race Equality Framework which reflects CERD obligations; implementation of Equally Safe, Scotland’s strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls, in keeping with both CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention; use of Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment to support implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC); a Fairer Scotland Action Plan which addresses a wide range of economic and social rights; action to embed dignity and respect at the heart of social security provision in Scotland; and the robust defence of civil and political rights in the face of UK Government threats to the Human Rights Act. The Scottish Government is also committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is working to integrate both human rights and the SDGs into Scotland’s National Performance Framework.