Together joins Scottish organisations to raise concerns over the use of emergency powers in Scotland

Date: 10th July 2020
Category: Civil Rights and Freedoms


In a joint letter coordinated by the British Institute for Human Rights, a group of Scottish organisations have written to the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee to raise concerns over the use of emergency powers granted in UK and Scottish Coronavirus legislation. The letter also highlights concerns over transparency of communications and clarity on how these powers are monitored and reviewed.

The key concerns raised in the joint letter include:

  • There is confusion amongst people, service providers, authorities and other organisations involved in care and support in Scotland about which provisions of Scots law have been suspended.
  • Where duties have been suspended there is a lack of transparency about which local authorities are applying the easements.
  • The First Progress Report to the Scottish Parliament published on 9th June 2020 falls short of offering clarity on the use of emergency powers at local level.
  • The monitoring and review of mechanisms explained in the report are themselves of concern, as they do not offer any way of monitoring whether or not the emergency powers are being used compatibility with human rights law.
  • People and their families remain worried about their access to care and support, advocacy and community groups are unable to challenge without information and those working across health and care cannot offer this clarity.

From these concerns, Together alongside other organisations made the following recommendations:

  • There must be transparency around which local authorities are using emergency powers and which are not.
  • People must be provided with easy to access information that enables them to understand what duties the local authority they are interacting with are bound by.
  • Frontline staff must be supported to recognise and respond to a situation in which a person’s legally protected human rights are at risk. This is necessary during Covid-19 and beyond.
  • Information about the emergency powers being used at local level should be monitored centrally via a robust procedure which enables informed decisions to be made about the continued availability of the powers.
  • Leadership should have oversight of these human rights risks and use this to support non-discriminatory and proportionate service-level and strategic decisions in responding to the pandemic.

Read the letter in full here.