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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-06690: Alexander Burnett (Aberdeenshire West)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 30 January 2017

To ask the Scottish Government, in cases where the European Court of Human Rights rules against the Scottish Government on human rights issues and miscarriages of justice, what measures it is taking to (a) avoid further instances and (b) protect the human rights of people wrongly accused or convicted of serious crimes.

Answered by: Michael Matheson 23 February 2017

Rulings by the European Court of Human Rights against the UK Government (which is the state party) in relation to Scottish criminal cases are extremely rare, and that Court has not, at any point, made a finding in any such case that an individual has been wrongly accused or convicted.

The very few rulings against the UK Government on Scottish devolved matters have concerned individual procedural issues, dependent on the facts of each case.

The fact that there are very few such rulings reflects the robust safeguards which protect human rights and guard against miscarriages of justice, and are central to Scotland’s criminal justice system; notably comprehensive appeal provisions and the availability of review by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission - one of very few such bodies in the world.

The Scottish Government also strongly supports the right of individual application to the European Court of Human Rights. That right predates the Human Rights Act 1998 and has been available to everyone in Scotland since 1966.