Human rights must not be an afterthought, the Human Rights Consortium Scotland tells MSPs

Scottish civil society is very concerned about potential serious human rights breaches during the coronavirus crisis.

Thirty organisations have written to MSPs to highlight a raft of 34 urgent questions that they must get answers to. From reductions in government transparency, to unnecessary risk to the right to food; from reducing people’s say about their own lives, to teenagers being at increased risk of criminalisation – civil society is calling for more to be done to protect human rights during this crisis.

The submission to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee, coordinated by the Human Rights Consortium Scotland, says that from now on, the Government must carry out and publish human rights analysis of all of its coronavirus decision-making.

This analysis must not be an afterthought or a tick-box but should be there right at the beginning of law and policy-making.  It must measure decisions against international and domestic human rights law obligations. And it must be open for all to see.

Mhairi Snowden, Coordinator of the Human Rights Consortium Scotland said:

‘The human rights law and standards that Scotland is signed up to are exactly for times such as these – they are there to make sure that all of us have the basics and the freedoms that we need in order to live.

We are calling on the Government – national and local – to assess the impact on human rights before they make any new coronavirus law or policy. They need to make sure that rights to food, to housing, to health, to protection from abuse, to social security, are protected for all of us and where these are at risk, take action to protect them.

We want no one to be forgotten or ignored – a human rights-based approach is the best way to make sure of this.’

This submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s inquiry into the impact of the pandemic on equalities and human rights is available here.