The Scottish Human Rights Commission(SHRC) is an independent body set up by an act of the Scottish Parliament in 2006. The Commission has power to conduct an independent inquiries into the policies and practices of Scottish public authorities. The Commission also promotes and protects the human rights guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights. The Commission also, has an international role as the National Human Rights Institution(NHRI) for Scotland.NHRIs are independent organisations established by law to promote and protect human rights.
The SHRC submitted a report to the United Nations in August 2014 identifying areas of concern to it where it felt more could and should be done to ensure peoples human rights are respected and protected by government and other public authorities in Scotland in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) The report lists a number of issues of concern to the Commission and the UN is asked to seek answers from both UK and Scottish governments. Specifically the report asks the UK and Scottish governments to outline what measures it is taking to ensure that restrictions with freedom of expression under The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland )Act 2013 are necessary in a democratic society.
It also asks if the laws in Scotland regarding processions and static assemblies(demos) respect the Covenant in respect of freedom of association and freedom of expression. As the Commissionâ€™s report specifically raises the OB Act and also related issues of freedom of assembly association and expression FAC took the view that a meeting should take place with ourselves and the SHRC to explain our involvement in opposition to the legislation from it was first suggested to now. On August a FAC delegation met with an officer of the Commission in Edinburgh. At that meeting we outlined in detail our campaign of opposition to the legislation before and after it became law. We also discussed with him the history of arrests under the Act and the subsequent lack of successful convictions. We outlined the events of March 2014 in Gallowgate Glasgow which in our view were a consequence of the legislation.
We were able to let the Commission have a draft copy of our findings regarding the Gallowgate “kettling” on a private basis for their use in discussions with a UN committee which met Monday 21st October in Geneva. We await a report from that meeting. We also discussed in some detail the fact that we had not been asked to submit evidence to the group from Stirling University which has been tasked with examining the workings of the Act. The Commission officer expressed surprise at this omission. We have to date still had no contact from the Stirling group. We will continue to liaise with the SHRC on these matters and will report further when we have more up to date information.