GROWING concern over the risk Brexit poses to human rights has resulted in more than 100 charities, campaign groups and civil society leaders joining forces to launch a new Scotland Declaration on Human Rights.

The signatories – which include trade unions, national charities and professional bodies such as the British Medical Association – are also calling for law and policy makers to take all steps possible to protect and progress human rights in the face of the UK’s departure from the EU.

Their aim is for Scotland to become a world leader in standing up for human rights and equality and their call comes as new research published today shows considerable support for human rights among the Scottish population.

The research, by the Scottish Human Rights Commission, found almost three times as many people support human rights (42 per cent) than oppose them (13 per cent). Supporters were typically younger, aged between 16 and 24 and earning less than £20,000 a year.

The survey also found the strongest support came from those who voted Yes in the Scottish independence referendum (54 per cent) compared with 32 per cent who voted No. When supporters were divided by political allegiance, 49 per cent were SNP voters, 46 per cent were LibDem voters, 43 per cent were Labour voters and only 17 per cent were Tory voters in the last General Election.

The Scotland Declaration is an initiative by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Human Rights Consortium Scotland, with backing from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Scottish Human Rights Commission.

The signatories to the declaration, which also include the Scottish Football Association, are calling on Scotland’s law and policy makers to take all possible steps to protect people’s rights – and to make Scotland a world leader when it comes to human rights.

The Scotland Declaration will be officially unveiled in a performance by Glasgow Disability Alliance drama group Purple Poncho Players at the Glasgow Women’s Library this afternoon. Judith Robertson, chairwoman of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said that leaving the EU could affect aspects of rights to a fair trial and data protection but what was more at risk was the “backstop of protection” that the EU provides.

“What we are trying to draw attention to is that the backstop of protection that the EU provides by being able to hold the UK Government to account will disappear,” she said. “The protection we currently have will go. We will no longer be party to the progress that the EU is making on human rights, so there is a potential gap that is of real concern between the rights people in the EU enjoy and the rights we have in the UK.”

Robertson added that the new research on public attitudes highlighted that people do care about human rights. “What is very clear is that with further information and more under-standing, people’s support grew,” she said. “That is really positive and shows us we need to be communicating and talking more about human rights.”

In a joint statement, the signatories said: “We are delighted to see this strong level of support for human rights in Scotland. However, there is no room for complacency. There is still work to be done to demonstrate the value and importance of human rights to everyone in their everyday lives – particularly when it comes to showing those who are not yet persuaded that human rights can and do make a real positive difference to our society.

“We are also concerned about the potential loss of protections for rights as a consequence of Brexit, and about the impact of the persistent negative rhetoric around human rights in parts of the UK, particularly in politics and the media. We are therefore calling on law and policy makers to show leadership in these challenging times, taking all possible steps to protect rights and equality for everyone, and putting Scotland on the map as a world leader on these issues.

“It is extremely heartening to see so many organisations, from right across Scottish civil society, join us in making this call.”