“Section 2(2) of the SCHR Act defines human rights as (a) the Convention rights within the meaning of section 1 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (c.42), (that is the rights in articles 2-12 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as articles 1 to 3 of the First Protocol and articles 1 and 2 of the sixth Protocol), and (b) other human rights contained in any international convention, treaty or other International instrument ratified by the United Kingdom. The definition of human rights is therefore restricted to conventions ratified by the UK.
The SCA acknowledges that the SHRC interprets its mandate more broadly than the formal reading of this provision. It encourages the SHRC to continue to interpret its mandate in a broad, liberal and purposive manner to promote a progressive definition of human rights, which includes all rights set out in international, regional and domestic instruments, including economic, social and cultural rights.
Section 11 of the SCHR Act empowers the SHRC to visit places of detention for inquiry purposes only. The power is limited to planned visits.
The SCA acknowledges the effective work SHRC is doing as member of the national preventive mechanism (NPM) under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). The SCA recognises that the SHRC was routinely involved in the inspection of Scotland’s prison estate at the invitation of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons in Scotland (HMIPS). The SCA is of the view that the SHRC should be enabled to conduct unannounced and unaccompanied visits to places of detention as part of its protection mandate including in cooperation with other relevant bodies.
The SCA recognises that the SHRC has intervened in court proceedings regarding the applicability of human rights to private companies exercising public functions. The SCA recommends that the SHRC advocate for appropriate amendments to its enabling law to include a more expansive definition of human rights and to extend to acts and omissions of private entities.”