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Human Rights and COVID-19

There are a number of serious concerns about the human rights implications of Government policy in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights call for evidence

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has announced that it will scrutinise the Government’s COVID-19 response. This includes any legislation that the Government brings forward to contain and control the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as how those measures are then implemented, and how the response could be differently affecting different groups of people.

The Committee is seeking views on the following:

  • What steps need to be taken to ensure that measures taken by the Government to address the COVID-19 pandemic are human rights compliant?
  • What will the impact of specific measures taken by Government to address the COVID-19 pandemic be on human rights in the UK?
  • Which groups will be disproportionately affected by measures taken by the Government to address the COVID-19 pandemic?

For more information visit:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/human-rights-committee/news-parliament-2017/covid-19-and-human-rights-19-21/

The deadline for written evidence is 22 July 2020.

To submit evidence go to:

https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/85/the-governments-response-to-covid19-human-rights-implications/

The Women and Equalities Committee call for evidence

The Women and Equalities Committee wants to hear about the different and disproportionate impact that the Coronavirus – and measures to tackle it - is having on people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission and other organisations have expressed concerns that there may be a particular impact on some people who have protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010: age, disability, sex, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation and gender reassignment.

The Committee is conscious that there may be many more equality impacts and is keen to hear from individuals and from organisations on these questions:

  • How have people have been affected by the illness or the response to it?
  • Have there been specific impacts on people due to them having a protected characteristic?
  • Are there any unforeseen consequences to measures brought in to ease the burden on frontline staff?

For more information visit:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/women-and-equalities-committee/news-parliament-2017/coronavirus-covid-19-inquiry-aunched-19-21-/

The deadline for responses is 30 April 2020.

To make a submission go to:

https://committees.parliament.uk/work/227/coronavirus-and-the-impact-on-people-with-protected-characteristics/

Disability Rights UK Open Letter

Disability Rights UK have shared a statement supported by disabled people, disabled people’s organisations and their allies on Covid-19 and the rights of disabled people. 

The letter makes the following statement: 

“ ... we believe that it is critical that everyone involved is guided by the following principles:

  • Our individual chance of benefiting from treatment should we have Covid-19 must not be influenced by how our lives are valued by society.
  • Where we have existing health conditions or impairments that are unrelated to our chance of benefiting from treatment, they must not play any part in decision-making regarding our equal right to access such treatment.
  • The fact that we might have significant levels of social care and support needs, or that we may do so in future as a result of the pandemic, should not make health staff think that we will not benefit from treatment.
  • We have the right to be fully involved in decisions about our own lives, including life and death decisions. Decisions should never be made without our involvement, or consideration of our best interests. There is no justification for policies based on age or learning disability that do not treat each of us with respect and as individuals. 
  • We all, and our advocates, have the right to know about decisions that may be made about us that will affect us.
  • Guidelines on the assessment, provision, and evaluation of treatment and care provided to individuals during the Covid-19 pandemic must be developed in collaboration with disabled people’s organisations and representatives from human rights bodies.”

The letter has been signed by over 1700 people and remains open for signatures. 

To read the letter in full, and to add you signature visit:

https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/april/covid-19-and-rights-disabled-people

The National Medical Director and Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England have responded to this letter, you can read their response at:

https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/april/response-open-letter-covid-19-and-rights-disabled-people