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Scottish Commission for Human Rights Act 2006 [S]

This Act creates the office of Scottish Commission for Human Rights (SCHR). The function of the office will be to promote awareness and understanding of, and respect for, human rights. The SCHR will deal with issued devolved to Scotland only. The bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 7 October 2005.

Policy objective

The SCHR will be a devolved officeholder with a general duty to promote awareness and understanding of, and respect for, human rights.  The SCHR’s remit will not be confined to the ECHR but will include all international human rights instruments that the UK has ratified.

However, the SCHR is to be required in exercising his or her functions to have special regard to the ECHR (“the Convention rights”) because the ECHR is the only international human rights instrument that is enforceable through the Scottish courts.

The UK Government has announced its intention to create a Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) for Great Britain. The CEHR will be implemented through the Equality Bill that is currently making its way through Westminster. The CEHR’s human rights role in Scotland will be restricted to reserved human rights issues.

Main provisions (as introduced)

SCHR (s.1)
Section 1 of the bill establishes the office of SCHR.

General duty to promote human rights (s.2)
The Commissioner’s general duty, as set out in section 2, is to promote awareness and understanding of, and respect for, human rights.

Other specific functions are set out in sections 3 to 5 and 11.

Duty to monitor law, policy and practice (s.3)
The Commissioner is required by section 3 to monitor the law of Scotland and the policies and practices of public authorities.  This function will allow a process of reviewing and reporting, and the Commissioner will be free to choose which issues he or she examines, provided that those issues are within his or her remit. This section also empowers the Commissioner to recommend changes to the law and to the policies and practices of public authorities.

Information, guidance and education (s.4)
Under this section the Commissioner may, in pursuing the general duty set out in section 2(1), publish or otherwise disseminate information or ideas and provide advice or guidance. The Commissioner will be able to conduct research and can provide education and training.

Power to conduct inquiries (s.5)
This section will allow the Commissioner to conduct inquiries into the policies or practices of a particular Scottish public authority.

Sections 6 to 10 of the bill sets out in more detail the powers and procedures in relation to conducting inquiries.

Power to intervene (s.11)
This section describes the process by which the Commissioner may intervene in civil proceedings before a court, with the exception of children’s hearing proceedings.  The Commissioner may only make a submission to the court on an issue arising in proceedings which the Commissioner considers are relevant to his or her general duty and raise a matter of public interest. Such interventions can only be made with leave of or at the invitation of the court.

Annual Report (s.12)
This measure provides that the SCHR must report annually to the Scottish Parliament.

Power to co-operate etc. with others (s.14)
This section empowers the Commissioner to consult, act jointly with, co-operate with or assist any other person.  Subsection (2) further stipulates that the Commissioner must attempt to ensure that activity undertaken does not unnecessarily duplicate the work of other statutory agencies with shared interests or remits that overlap with that of the Commissioner.


07/10/05 – Bill introduced to Scottish Parliament

Lead Committee: Justice 1

2006 - Bill becomes Act

08/12/07 - Bill received Royal Assent

Further information

Scottish Commissioner for Human Rights Bill
Scottish Commissioner for Human Rights Bill Policy Memorandum
Scottish Commissioner for Human Rights Bill Explanatory Notes
Bill as passed
Scottish Commissioner for Human Rights Act 2006