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Commission launches spotlight focus on human rights across Highlands and Islands

This news post is 9 months old

The Scottish Human Rights Commission will present the report next year. 

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has launched a project to find out how human rights are being experienced across the Highlands and Islands. 

As Scotland’s National Human Rights Institution, the commission is mandated by an Act of Parliament to monitor human rights in Scotland. 

As part of this role in 2023/24, the commission will focus and report on what is happening to people’s economic, social and cultural rights in the Highlands and Islands.

In March 2023, the Commission delivered a report to the United Nations in Geneva on how economic, social and cultural rights are being experienced in Scotland.  

Our evidence gathering to inform this highlighted a number of issues of particular human rights concern in rural areas of Scotland, including lack of affordable and quality housing, inaccessible health care services, and fuel poverty. 

The Commission has therefore taken the decision to take a deeper look at these potential human rights denials to understand more about how economic, social and cultural rights are being experienced in the Highlands and Islands.

The project will involve four stages, including desk-based research and community visits. 

The Commission will be collecting new data and visiting communities, third sector organisations, local authorities and MSPs in Lerwick, Kirkwall, Thurso, Wick, Dingwall, Inverness, Elgin, Stornoway, Tarbert, Ullapool, Portree and Dunoon in a series of face-to-face meetings during October and November 2023.

The Commission will be presenting a final spotlight report on the Highlands and Islands to the Scottish Parliament in Spring 2024.

Jan Savage, executive director of the commission, said: “The Commission wants to understand the human rights issues affecting people in rural areas across the Highlands and Islands. 

“We are focusing on economic, social and cultural rights, which includes how the government provides essential services to people for things like housing, health, education, culture and environmental rights.

“We have been approached by members of communities in the Highlands and Islands who are concerned about lack of affordable housing, high levels of food insecurity and difficulties in accessing medical services in rural areas.

“Through our treaty monitoring work to the United Nations, we have found that there is a lack of information and available data, specific to the Highlands and Islands, in comparison to the rest of Scotland.

“As part of our monitoring role on human rights, we will be investigating this situation further and establishing if public authorities are doing enough to provide essential services and support for people in rural areas to access their economic, social and cultural rights.”