Evidence to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee on the impact of COVID-19

The Chair of the Commission, Judith Robertson, gave evidence today on the impact of COVID-19 to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee at the Scottish Parliament.

In her evidence she focused on the need for human rights considerations and standards to guide planning for recovery:

“Rights in relation to economic participation, social rights relating to health, education, housing and adequate standard of living are all still live, pertinent issues that have not gone away as a result of the virus and have been exacerbated in many contexts. We are building on a situation after ten years of austerity where economic and social rights have been eroded systematically over a period of time."

Judith recommended that current and future responses to the crisis adopt a human rights based approach which upholds all human rights:

“We recognise that we are still in a public health crisis but we will have an opportunity and the time and the space to look at this from a different perspective.

“There is a Scottish Government focus on increasing the protections around economic and social rights through the First Minister’s National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership. That is a really important process and that needs to be sustained and strengthened and be recognised as part of the response to the pandemic.

“The Commission recommends taking a human rights based approach to the lessons learned from the pandemic and developing policy with a participatory process whereby people have a say in how these processes unfold. Both individuals and groups should be able to participate in decision making around how it unfolds so that people are making informed choices about what actions they can take.”

The Commission will continue to provide ongoing briefings and evidence to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s Inquiry into COVID-19. You can find out more about our work on human rights and COVID-19 here: https://www.scottishhumanrights.com/covid-19/