Joint Committee On Human Rights Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

39.  Memorandum from Scope

  Scope is a major disability organisation with a focus on cerebral palsy. Scope's core aim is equality for disabled people and to that end Scope provides a wide range of services across the country which seek to support disabled people and their families and enable them to maximise their potential and participate fully in society.

  Scope believes the introduction of the Human Rights Act has been a major step forward in the development of a basic culture of human rights in this country and a standard of treatment and respect which all individuals are entitled to receive. For disabled people, this builds on the rights contained in Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and supported by the establishment of the Disability Rights Commission.

  Scope believes a Human Rights Commission could play an extremely helpful and efficient role in further developing a culture of human rights in this country. By pro-actively developing and disseminating guidance and good practice, it could provide public authorities with the necessary advice and expertise to ensure they are fulfilling their responsibilities appropriately. In this way, individuals are less likely to need to turn to the Courts and bodies can channel limited resources into more appropriate areas of spending than litigation. A Human Rights Commission could also play an important educational role in developing awareness within the general public on their rights under the Act as well as referring people on to sources of more specific individual support as required. Finally, a Human Rights Commission could play an important part in monitoring actual implementation of the Act, bringing to the attention of legislators and policy makers any areas of concern or confusion and supporting test cases where appropriate.

  The Disability Rights Commission has played many similar roles in relation to the Disability Discrimination Act since its establishment in April 2000. As such it has been extremely beneficial to many individual disabled people and proved an effective and valuable source of advice and expertise to other bodies working with and for disabled people. However, Scope believes there is still a long way to go before a widespread awareness of the rights enshrined in the DDA will be in existence and a proper culture of disability rights is established.

  Consequently, Scope does not believe that a Human Rights Commission should replace the DRC at the present time. Rather, a Human Rights Commission should be charged to work in close partnership with the DRC and the other equality commissions and seek to complement and further co-ordinate their important work.

2 July 2001

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