UK Government must urgently consider the human rights impact of COVID-19 measures says Joint Committee

Date: 22nd September 2020
Category: Other human rights treaties and mechanisms, Basic Health and Welfare, Civil Rights and Freedoms, Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities, General measures of implementation, General principles

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Following a consultation, the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a report on the impact of the response to COVID-19.

The report draws attention to problem areas, including:

  • Lockdown Regulations: these were not made sufficiently clear to the public and more care was needed to distinguish between advice, guidance and the law. Police were given additional powers which they did not fully understand, including powers to impose fixed penalty notices of up to £10’000.
  • Right to education: children had been affected differently by school closures and remote learning depending on socioeconomic factors, additional support needs and disabilities.
  • Detention: the blanket ban on prison visits was found to be “incompatible to the right to family life”
  • Access to justice: limited during the pandemic. The report called on the UK Government to ensure that lack of access to technology did not lead to people becoming digitally excluded from the justice system and unfairly disadvantaged.
  • Health and Care: criticisms include removal of safeguards in children’s social care.
  • Contact tracing: raised ongoing privacy issues.
  • Accountability and scrutiny: related powers under the Coronavirus Act were found to be insufficient. The report called for new provisions to be subject to parliamentary debate and approval.

Read the full report here.