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What is Independent Advocacy

Independent advocacy and the Scottish Human Rights Bill

The Scottish Government is working on a proposed human rights framework for Scotland that will incorporate international treaties into Scots law. We expect that there will be public consultation on a Scottish Human Rights Incorporation Bill during 2023.

Often it’s when people face a power imbalance that they may be vulnerable. Their human rights may not be upheld because the power imbalance means that they are not listened to. Independent Advocacy works for people who face a power imbalance. It stands alongside people. It enables them to say how they feel and what they want. It makes sure that people’s voices are heard and their human rights are protected. It’s essential that the new Human Rights Bill includes Independent Advocacy.

The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA) says: ‘Without clear mechanisms and tools built into the Human Rights Bill to make rights real for people, the Bill will not be effective. Independent advocacy is ready made to bring human rights to life. When properly resourced independent advocacy can create the context for people to be heard, services to meet their needs and justice to be realised.’

Graphic of a judge representing Scottish Human Rights Bill, with scales and gavel

How Independent Advocacy protects human rights

The SIAA briefing paper lists a variety of examples of how human rights can be protected by Independent Advocacy:

  • The right to health – providing independent advocacy to an individual with substance use, supporting them to connect with addiction and mental health services.
  • The right to education – providing independent advocacy to a young person requiring additional support, supporting them to access education that best meets their needs.
  • The right to housing – a collective group of tenants coming together to clarify and understand their rights and communicate with their housing provider to address issues of concern.
  • The right to social protection and social security – providing independent advocacy to a family from the Gypsy Traveller community, supporting them to access their entitlement to free school meals for their children.
  • The right to take part in cultural life – providing independent advocacy to a woman with an intellectual disability, supporting her to challenge a local drama group which had excluded her from joining, without providing a justifiable reason.

Independent Advocacy can help the Scottish Human Rights Incorporation Bill achieve its aims. It can do this because it will make sure that people are listened to and can realise the human rights that the bill sets out.

    Read the full SIAA briefing paper

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