Righting wrongs and entrenching rights: ongoing activity in Scotland

Followers of this blog will be aware that the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee has issued a call for views on the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill. This legislation seeks to right certain wrongs of the past by means of financial redress for survivors of childhood (under 18) abuse in relevant in-care settings. The call for views closes on 2 October 2020.

Separately, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill has recently been introduced to the Scottish Parliament (link here). This bill has been assigned to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee for scrutiny at stage 1 of the 3 stage Scottish legislative process. A call for views on this bill closes on 16 October 2020 (link here). This legislation proposes to entrench the rights of children and young people (under 18) in Scotland by incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots law. UNCRC rights include the right to be heard, have an education, and to play and rest. The bill as introduced provides that:

  • public authorities will not be permitted to act in a way that is incompatible with UNCRC requirements;
  • courts will have powers to decide if legislation is compatible with UNCRC requirements; 
  • Scottish Government will be able to change laws to make sure they are compatible with UNCRC requirements;
  • the Children and Young People’s Commissioner in Scotland will have power to take legal action if children’s rights under UNCRC are breached;
  • Scottish Government will be required to publish a Children’s Rights Scheme to show how they are meeting UNCRC requirements and explain their future plans for children’s rights;
  • Scottish Government will be required to review how the Scheme is working every year; and
  • other public authorities mentioned in the bill will be required to report every three years on what they have done to meet UNCRC requirements.

Both the redress and UNCRC bills are Scottish Government bills. Scottish Government intends both bills to pass all three legislative stages before dissolution of the current fifth session of the Scottish Parliament in March 2021 ahead of an election of members to the sixth session on 6 May 2021.

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