Human rights at risk in Scotland too

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I don’t know where to begin with the wrongheadedness, ignorance and confusion behind the Scotland Office spokesman’s claim, reported uncritically in your paper (2 October), that Scotland will be immune to the Tories’ plan to junk the Human Rights Act.

You appear to have conflated the distinct European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) requirements written into the Scotland Act – that Holyrood legislation and
Scottish ministers respect Convention rights – with the much wider reach of the Human Rights Act, which binds over all public authorities in Scotland to observe fundamental rights.

If this act were repealed, all of those protections the Scottish people currently enjoy would be stripped away.

Even the Scotland Act is ultimately a piece of Westminster legislation and although schedule 4 rightly protects the Human Rights Act from any amendment by the Scottish Parliament there is nothing to prevent it being amended or repealed from London.

The convention has been very good for Scotland. It has protected our privacy, checked arbitrary power, promoted the rights of LGBT people and protected your right to object to fracking under your house.

It stands against the deportation of anybody to countries where they are likely to be subject to torture, mistreatment, and the flagrant denial of injustice. This has been denounced by senior members of David Cameron’s government and an increasingly bold Eurosceptic media as an arrogant and unwelcome interference in our internal affairs.

But what serious-minded, ethical person could endorse the idea, and turn a blind eye to such wrongs? In law, nothing can prevent the demise of the Human Rights Act in 
Scotland if Westminster demands it.

Make no mistake. The fundamental rights of Scots are in serious danger from the Prime Minister’s reckless, reactionary European policy. Repealing the Human Rights Act is a Union dividend of which only Belarus could be proud.

Alyn Smith

SNP Member of the European Parliament for Scotland

Edinburgh

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