This website uses cookies for anonymised analytics and for core features such as voting on polls and comments. See our privacy and cookies policies for more information.




The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

30 frustrating human rights years

This opinion piece is about 8 years old
 

Carole Ewart, coordinator of the Human Rights Consortium Scotland, is celebrating 30 years working on human rights

Carole Ewart, coordinator, Human Rights Consortium Scotland
Carole Ewart, coordinator, Human Rights Consortium Scotland

I started out at the Scottish Civil Liberty Trust writing legal rights information for teachers and pupils.

Disturbingly, the need for building knowledge and capacity of people and organisations to assert and respect human rights in Scotland remains. Very often we have to rely on the arbitrary kindness of individuals rather than institutional good practice.

Back in 1984 it looked so promising as local authorities funded and supported the work of the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties (SCCL).

We raised popular privacy issues caused by poll tax delivery and police apparently easily accessing individual telephone metering records. We asserted the right to peacefully protest in the face of new legal restrictions.

I hope that one day human rights will be as treasured in popular culture as Tunnocks teacakes, knitting and sport

Press and media freedom remained a prominent theme after the Special Branch raid on BBC Scotland and we learnt just what rights our government had signed up to internationally through contacts I made with theInternational Federation of Human Rights Leagues. This introduced me to the UN human rights treaty review process and I got SCCL involved.

It continues to assist us, most recently in 2012 at the UN’s review of the UK’s human rights record.

Yet the startling report by the Mental Welfare Commission on long-term dementia care in NHS units proves just how much work needs to be done about every day application of human rights, especially on liberty and respect for family life: "73% of people had not been on an outing” in the previous three months and seven units were “institutional, bare and stark”, it stated.

Alongside the challenges, however, there are some really positive changes.

An independent UN-approved national human rights institution, the Scottish Human Rights Commission was set up in 2008 and its budget is over £6 million so far.

A Scottish national action plan to grow human rights culture and practice has been created and a UK Human Rights Acthas given domestic effect to theEuropean Convention on Human Rights.

I hope that one day human rights will be as treasured in popular culture as Tunnocks teacakes, the Mackintosh Building at GSA (with effective sprinklers), knitting and sport.

We all have a role in making that happen so think about joining the Human Rights Consortium Scotland, a network of non-governmental organisations. We want people to feel empowered to exercise economic, social, cultural, civil, political and environmental rights. You can also register for our free conference on 27 June.

Carole Ewart is coordinator of the Human Rights Consortium Scotland and a public policy and human rights consultant. Follow her on Twitter: @EwartHumanRight.

 

Comments

Be the first to comment.