Scottish minister condemns ‘shameful’ Bill of Rights

A Scottish minister has restated her opposition to the UK Government’s plans to overhaul human rights laws.

The Bill of Rights is expected to return to the Commons in the coming weeks – after previously being shelved by Liz Truss’s government.

UK Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has insisted the proposals will “strengthen” freedoms and “curtail” abuses of the system.

But Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison told a conference in Edinburgh on Thursday that the proposed legislation threatens the UK’s safety and security.

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Dominic Raab is to bring the Bill of Rights Bill back to the Commons (James Manning/PA)

Mr Raab has said the Bill aims to allow the UK Government to deport more foreign criminals, prevent “spurious or unmeritorious claims”, reinforce the “quintessentially British right” of freedom of speech, and ensure the Westminster Parliament has the “last word on the laws of this land”.

Speaking at the Championing a High Standards conference, organised by the Human Rights Consortium Scotland and its UK counterparts, Ms Robison said: “It seems we will now see the resurrection of one of the most partisan and shameful legislative proposals in modern UK politics.

“The UK Government’s proposed Bill of Rights Bill is – and remains – a Bill of wrongs. It is in truth a rights removal Bill, as civil society campaigners have so effectively labelled it.

“It has been claimed that these proposals will ‘curtail the abuse of human rights’. Well, let me speak plainly. The human rights abuses the UK Government really needs to address are the abuses caused by its own unfair and unjust policies.

“The Scottish Government, and Scotland as a whole, stands shoulder-to-shoulder with civil society activists and human rights campaigners throughout the UK.

“We are resolute in our commitment to defend the Human Rights Act, and to safeguard the rights of every member of society.”

Calling for the current human rights laws to remain intact, she added: “The Human Rights Act has a 22-year track record of delivering justice, including for some of the most vulnerable people and communities in Scotland.

“It is woven into the fabric of the constitutional settlements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It benefits us all, and it must not be repealed.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “The Bill of Rights will strengthen rights like freedom of speech which we have a proud tradition of across all parts of the United Kingdom, while also better protecting the public from dangerous criminals.

“We want everyone to benefit from our reforms which will re-inject a healthy dose of common sense to the system and end the abuse of our laws.”