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23 September 2015
Nicola Sturgeon issues Human Rights warning

Nicola Sturgeon issues Human Rights warning

Conservative plans to repeal the Human Rights Act are “wholly unnecessary” and will “diminish the UK’s reputation”, the First Minister will warn today.  

In a speech in Glasgow Nicola Sturgeon will set out how the Scottish Government will respond to any proposals that emerge from the UK Government to replace the Act with a 'British Bill of Rights'.

It comes after former Attorney General for England and Wales Dominic Grieve told an audience in Edinburgh that UK non-compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) would “offer an example and an invitation for it to be ignored by others”.

Sturgeon is to speak alongside Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti, who last month said she was “very grateful” for assurances that the SNP’s 56 MPs would work to retain the Human Rights Act. 

“At the moment, none of us know how this Bill of Rights could work,” Sturgeon is expected to say.

“In fact, the UK Government doesn’t seem to have any idea. That’s because their pledge has created a completely unnecessary dilemma.

“Nobody believes that the UK Government will strengthen existing human rights protections. But the UK Government must also know that any legislation which weakens human rights protections will diminish the UK’s reputation overseas, damage relations with devolved governments, and impact on the welfare of people within the UK.

“Repealing the Human Rights Act meets no pressing need, and addresses no obvious problem.

“There is instead a clear risk that it will create legal confusion; harm people in the UK who need support and protection; and give comfort to illiberal governments around the world. No responsible government should even be considering such a step.”

Sturgeon is speaking less than 48 hours after Conservative MP Grieve delivered a Faculty of Advocates lecture in which he hinted that UK non-compliance with the ECHR could bolster calls for independence.

The government’s most senior legal adviser between 2010 and 2014 warned that non-compliance “calls into question” the devolution settlements for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“Parliament at Westminster could of course legislate to change the position, but there is overwhelming evidence that this would be against the will of the devolved administrations,” said the Tory MP.

“In the case of Northern Ireland, it is also part of an international treaty involving Ireland. At a time when the peace settlement in Northern Ireland is still fragile and the future of the United Kingdom itself is in question, it opens up the prospect of new areas of political discord.

“While I appreciate that there may be some, including of course in this audience, who might welcome this as hastening their domestic political goals, I find this a very odd thing for a government committed to the Union to do.”

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