Brexit must not erode human rights, warns Sturgeon

Brexit must not be allowed to erode the principles of human rights, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Speaking on the 20th anniversary of the Scotland Act and Human Rights Act becoming law on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said human rights has been one of the “undoubted successes” of devolution.

The Scottish Government said it has adopted a rights-based approach to key social policies such as new social security powers and incorporation of the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law.

Ms Sturgeon was speaking at a Strathclyde University conference on human rights in Glasgow.

She said: “The Scotland Act and the Human Rights Act, taken together, transformed the context in which human rights issues are considered and decided in Scotland.

“In my view, human rights has been one of the undoubted successes of devolution.

“Over the last 20 years the Scottish Parliament has consistently acted to strengthen human rights protections.”

Ms Sturgeon said Scotland’s legislation treats people with fairness and compassion and has human dignity at the heart of the process.

She added: “With the period of uncertainty, which an unnecessary and damaging Brexit poses, we must ensure that 20 years on from the Scotland Act, we battle to preserve, protect and enhance our human rights.

“Earlier this year, I established the Human Rights Leadership Group, which will determine how best to extend human rights protections. That is entirely in keeping with the original devolution settlement.”

Dr Elaine Webster of Strathclyde Law School organised the conference.

She said: “It is hugely encouraging to see Scotland taking the lead and examining how to forge ahead during these times of uncertainty.

“It sends a signal to the world that Scotland supports the European and international human rights system founded 70 years ago with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“It also sends a signal to the Scottish community that we recognise the value in improving the legal framework, which would be one more step towards improving everyday realisation of our rights.

“Today’s conference was designed to engage with the ongoing process in Scotland, and to reflect on ways in which the future of human rights here could be shaped.”