Right to food ‘should be in Scots Law’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The right to food is currently enshrined in international their human rights

The human right to food should be put into Scots Law to protect people from rising insecurity, a report to the Scottish government suggests.

The Scottish Human Right Commission believes the move “would help tackle health inequalities”.

Its report was compiled for the Scottish government’s consultation on attaining Scotland a “good food nation” .

The government said it was committed to protecting internationally-recognised human rights.

The right to food is currently enshrined in international legislation.

Food insecurity

The commission said this right – which involves food being accessible, adequate and available for everyone – is not being realised across Scotland.

Food insecurity is “unacceptably high”, the report said, with more than 480,500 food parcels being handed out by food banks between April 2017 and September 2018.

It continues: “Health inequalities are persistent with many people, including children, unable to afford or access a healthy and nutritious diet.”

Image copyright Getty Images

Before building its submission, the commission on human rights speaking on people experiencing food poverty in Scotland, including a mother who lives with her one-year-old son in a rural area.

She said: “My universal credit was delayed and I had 85 p left in my bank account.

“I had run out of nappies and wipes and was worried I would have no fund for milk or food for my son if it did not come through.

“I had a food parcel delivered recently and I suppose I’ll require another this week.

“To reach a low-cost supermarket is a three-mile walk, constructing it a six-mile round trip on foot with my baby in a buggy.

“To get the bus would expense me PS5, which would take a significant chunk out of my weekly food budget.”

‘Practical leadership’

Commission chairwoman Judith Robertson said: “International law is clear that governments have obligations to take action to ensure people’s right to food is realised.

“The Scottish Human Rights Commission is calling on the government to take action to incorporate the right to food into Scotland’s statutes as one of the purposes of its work to construct Scotland a good food nation.

“We want to see the Scottish government indicating human rights leadership in a practical way.”

The consultation document states that the option of exploring a right to food which is directly enforceable under Scots law “has not been ruled out”. But it indicates project proposals sit within wider human rights responsibilities.

The Scottish government said their own nationals taskforce was being established to take forward the group’s recommendations.

A spokesman added: “We have also increased our Fair Food Fund to PS3. 5m this year to continue supporting the organizations that help to tackle the causes of food insecurity.”

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