Nicola Sturgeon responds

March 27, 2015


When Traidcraft launched the Justice campaign in September 2014, we encouraged campaigners to send postcards to the leaders of all the main UK political parties, including the parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. At the time of the launch, just days before the Scottish referendum, none of us knew whether Scotland would remain part of the United Kingdom.

Six months on, with Scotland still in the Union, many commentators suggest that the Scottish National Party could play a key role in any ‘hung’ parliament after the General Election.

So it is encouraging for our campaign to have received the following response from Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Leader of the SNP. We welcome the commitment she gives to taking forward the UK Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, and we hope that any SNP MPs in the new parliament will push for specific government action on access to justice.

You can read our reactions to responses we have received from the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party. We have yet to receive a written response from the Conservative party, or any of the other smaller parties.

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The SNP Scottish Government has had a long-standing commitment to fair trade and has worked with organisations and businesses to achieve Fair Trade Nation status for Scotland. However, achieving Fair Trade status is not the end, but a new beginning. The Scottish Government will continue to further promote the Fair Trade campaign, increasing awareness and procurement of Fair Trade in the public, private and voluntary sector.

The SNP is equally committed to defending and promoting human rights both at home and abroad. We will oppose any attempt by a future UK Government to scrap the Human Rights Act or to withdraw from the ECHR. If the UK were to water down human rights laws it could encourage other countries within the Council of Europe which don't have a good track record on human rights to disregard the requirements of the Convention.

We also believe that it is essential that the business plays its part in preventing and remedying breaches of human rights around the world, and the Scottish Government is committed to working with businesses, civil society organisations and the Scottish Human Rights Commission on this. We are strongly supportive of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights contains a commitment to develop a plan of action in Scotland to give effect to the UN Guiding Principles, building on the UK's implementation plan.

SNP MPs elected in May will also ensure the UK Government takes forward their plan, including the development of non-judicial remedies, and does all it can to ensure access to justice for those that have suffered from human rights abuses abroad.

I am aware that Traidcraft are calling for it to be made possible to bring criminal prosecutions in the UK against British companies that abuse human rights in other countries. We are committed to ensuring that human rights abuses are prosecuted and whether such a statutory provision is to be implemented would need careful consideration, particularly given the unique position of the Scottish legal system within a devolved set-up.

It is encouraging to receive a high volume of campaign cards to SNP HQ regarding your campaign from addresses across the UK. This is an important issue for many and I am sure it will be a subject of interest for the forthcoming General Election

Best wishes

Nicola Sturgeon

Leader of the SNP and First Minister