Commission flags human rights implications of coronavirus emergency laws


Commission flags human rights implications of coronavirus emergency laws  

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has today briefed Scotland’s MSPs on the human rights implications of the Coronavirus Bill, which will be considered by the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 1 April.

Read the full briefing.

The Commission recognises the positive obligations on government to take reasonable steps to minimise the risk to life posed by the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission also stresses the need for any legislative measures to be lawful, necessary, proportionate and time limited, in line with human rights laws.

Judith Robertson, Chair of the Commission, said:

“In times of crisis, human rights laws and standards must guide government action, parliamentary scrutiny, and subsequent monitoring and review of measures taken.

“Broad powers will be conferred on Scottish Ministers by this week’s emergency legislation, enabling them to deal with the current public health crisis. While these measures may be necessary at this moment in time, many of them have substantial human rights implications and must therefore be subject to regular review, including in the event that parliament is not sitting.

“External, independent oversight by appropriate existing bodies, of the use and impact of these powers will also be important. We want to see Scottish legislation provide for this.

“We have also briefed MSPs today on a range of specific areas of particular concern when it comes to people’s rights. These include measures affecting social care, mental health law, restrictions on people’s movement, quarantine measures, arrangements for registration of workers and the particular risks faced by people in places of detention.”