Rennie calls for human rights reports ahead of FM's China trip

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has demanded the Scottish Government publish its human rights reports on the companies the First Minister will do deals with during a trade venture to China this week, warning that such transparency is essential to restore Scotland's tarnished reputation on the world stage.

Changes were promised in the wake of the so-called "Scottish shambles", which saw the First Minister sign an agreement reportedly worth £10 billion with Chinese companies, only for one of the companies to be connected to human rights abuses while the other was found not to have any money to spend.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said in March 2017 he would work to develop a "robust human rights impact assessment" process for companies the government was dealing with but, under questioning from Willie Rennie ahead of her visit to China, the First Minister was unable to say when this would be published or what checks had been done on the firms she was set to meet.

Willie Rennie said:

“The Scottish Government have had more than a year to explain how they intend to mend their ways but they have completely failed to deliver.

"The First Minister will no doubt be putting pen to paper on a number of deals when she is in China. We need to know whether they have been subject to the strengthened human rights assessments process promised over a year ago.

"After all, they spent months defending an ill-fated deal they did with Chinese companies they hadn't so much as googled, expending time, resources and Scotland's reputation for good business in the process.

"We cannot afford for a single company or country to get the wrong impression about the value that the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland place on human rights. That's why such transparency is essential to restoring our tarnished reputation on the world stage.

"The Scottish Government must immediately publish its human rights reports on the firms it intends to do deals with, to reassure the public that this time they’ve done their due diligence."

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