In this blog Equalities Ambassador Luke Padfield, shares his experiences of attending the Human Rights Day celebrations at the Scottish Parliament on 10 December
On the 70th anniversary of the universal declaration of Human rights, delegates assembled at the Scottish Parliament for what was to be a memorable occasion.
The First Minister formally endorsed the main thrust of the Advisory Group’s recommendations in that the Scottish Government is to put forward a new Human Rights Act for Scotland. The new act will protect existing civil and political rights while at the same time incorporating social, economic and environmental rights. The use of language was cautious as politicians threw what weight was in their power behind the human rights agenda. The word ‘cultural’doing a bit of a vanishing act as it was included and omitted by various speakers. Notably, a young man of 16 years expressed his support for the incorporation of the principles of the UNCRC but challenged the FM to “fully incorporate the document before the end of this parliamentary session”.
Other brave voices were also heard with an Engineer from the University of Leeds talking of his threatened deportation, a delegate from Iran calling on the panel to condemn acts of violence against his people and a person with experience of abuse at the hands of mental health professionals all told their stories.
After several speakers and poems, we broke into groups to discuss various aspects of how to progress the Human Rights agenda in Scotland.How can the parliament best fulfil its role as a Human Rights guarantor? How can we best hear Children’s voices? Is there a consensus among politicians about what human rights actually mean? We heard from many practioners about their first hand experience of Human Rights with an emphasis on why, and perhaps more importantly how the language and practice of Human Rights is making a difference to people’s everyday lives. One of the most significantpoints of the day so far is the perceived sense of momentum behind this pieceof collective action. The question remains will this momentum be enough toensure these much discussed rights actually make it to the statute book?