Human rights watchdog welcomes announcement of Covid inquiry

Human rights watchdog welcomes announcement of Covid inquiry

Kavita Chetty

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has welcomed the Scottish government’s committent to a “human rights-based” inquiry into its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kavita Chetty, head of strategy and legal for the rights watchdog, briefed MSPs last week on why human rights need to be embedded in the inquiry from the outset.

The government announced yesterday that a judge-led inquiry would be established by the end of the year and launched a consultation on its draft aims and principles.

Ms Chetty said: “As we start to look back on decisions made, it is important to understand both why and how people’s human rights were impacted. A public inquiry can shine a light on systemic issues and failures, in turn allowing for accountability and lessons to be learned as we move into recovery.

“People’s human rights, including the right to life, have been impacted by almost every measure and decision taken in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The experiences of people living in care homes, people accessing social care, those in prison, or children unable to attend school or nursery all have human rights implications.

“While the whole population experienced unprecedented restrictions on their personal freedoms, we already know that some groups have felt the impact acutely and disproportionately.”

She added: “The Commission welcomes the Scottish government’s commitment to take a human rights-based approach to this public inquiry. This will enable all of us to examine decisions through the lens of international and domestic human rights laws and standards – a clear, robust framework that can guide us through a complex set of issues.

“A human rights based approach will also mean ensuring those most affected by the pandemic are fully engaged in developing both the process and the outcome of the Inquiry and embedding human rights into the work taking place to develop and specify terms of reference, accountability mechanisms, participation processes and communication methods.”

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