4.1 Your human rights
Research into the use of the HRA 1998 in Scotland suggests that basic human rights points have been raised in only a tiny fraction of cases brought before the courts. The decisions in these cases have had an important but moderate impact on the courts, public policy, private practice and the legal system. The fair trial provisions in Article 6 have been raised in a number of criminal justice cases and have led to a number of changes, for example, the statutory abolition of temporary sheriffs, the provision of free legal representation to children appearing before a children’s panel. The Scottish Government has also pre-empted a number of potential challenges through legislative reform.
You should now watch the following video produced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the national equality body. The Commission is a public body established by the Equality Act 2006. It is independent of government and, like the Scottish Human Rights Commission, has been awarded an ‘A’ status as a National Human Rights Institution by the UN.
Box 5 The Equality and Human Rights Commission
Our job is to help make Britain fairer. We do this by safeguarding and enforcing the laws that protect people’s rights to fairness, dignity and respect.
We aim to be an expert and authoritative organisation that is a centre of excellence for evidence, analysis and equality and human rights law. We also aspire to be an essential point of contact for policy makers, public bodies and business.
We use our unique powers to challenge discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect human rights. We work with other organisations and individuals to achieve our aims, but are ready to take tough action against those who abuse the rights of others.
We live in a country with a long history of upholding people’s rights, valuing diversity and challenging intolerance. The Commission seeks to maintain and strengthen this heritage, while identifying and tackling areas where there is still unfair discrimination or where human rights are not being respected.
You should now listen to this audio which explores common human rights myths.