Below is a slightly edited version of the speech Sarah Quinn hoped to give at #SNP19 on Protecting Our Human Rights
Our human rights impact us in invisible ways every day. From your Primary School education to your Pension, human rights are there every step of the way, ensuring that your Government and Governments across the world are held accountable for their actions, and that they don’t miss the mark when it comes to human rights obligations.
Whilst we have some way to go in ensuring that everyone has access to their human rights, I’m proud to see that Scotland is leading the way when it comes to ensuring fairness, justice, and equality for all – particularly as a young person who will no doubt be positively impacted by the Scottish Government’s commitment to incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots Law.
However, it crushes me to say that the rights that I regularly depend on are not in the hands of our progressive, devolved Government. Rather, they are in the hands of a Conservative Government that are unlikely to effectively consult the Scottish Government before stripping me of rights that protect me as a young, LGBT, Care-Experienced woman.
In repealing the European Convention on Human Rights, the UK Government would allow itself to also repeal the Human Rights Act and the protections it affords us. Instead, it would be able to proceed with a British Bill of Rights, one that we cannot guarantee would offer the same protections when it comes to key issues such as privacy, surveillance, and torture.
This Conservative Government is willing to sacrifice the rights of millions of people living in the UK, just to pass right-wing policies that would make any human rights defender wince.
A Government should never repeal human rights legislation in order to pass a policy.
Furthermore, the ECHR and the Human Rights Act are enshrined in several key laws that impact us massively as a nation, including the Scotland Act. In order to repeal these, amendments would need to be made to legislation including the Scotland Act, which would open up a whole new can of worms. The Scotland Act is as close to a constitution as our devolved government is going to get – this is not an issue to be taken lightly.
Additionally, if Brexit has taught us anything, it’s that the UK Government is both incapable and reluctant to work constructively when it comes to key issues that will impact Scotland in the future. Whilst convention suggests that the UK Government needs to work with Scotland on issues such as this, something about recent events suggests that compromise and consideration of Scotland aren’t high on their list of priorities. If the UK Government were to repeal the European Convention on Human Rights, you’d best believe they’d do so without any real consideration for those impacted in devolved nations.
I’m a proud human rights defender as the conference floor showed last week, but we cannot stand by while our rights are taken away by a Government that’s hunger for power is seemingly never ending.