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The ALLIANCE calls for human rights to be prioritised in the COVID-19 public inquiry

Section: Policy into PracticeThe ALLIANCEType: News Item Date Published: 14th January 2022
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The ALLIANCE has written to the chair of the public inquiry into the handling of COVID-19.

On 14 December 2021, the Scottish Government published the terms of reference for the public inquiry into the handling of COVID-19 in Scotland (this link will take you away from our website).

The terms of reference were informed by public engagement and are subject to a period of reflection by the chair of the inquiry, Lady Poole, who will be able to suggest amendments.

The ALLIANCE welcomes the publication of the terms of reference, and congratulates Lady Poole on her appointment as chair for the inquiry.

We have written a letter to Lady Poole calling for further steps to be taken to explicitly embed human rights, intersectionality and equalities in the approach taken to the inquiry.

It is imperative that we understand fully the intersectional human rights implications of decision making during the COVID-19 pandemic, including how decisions were made, the transparency behind those decisions, the extent to which human rights were considered, and the impact on individuals, families, and carers.

Additionally, it is crucial that human rights are embedded throughout the inquiry, including in its participation, communication and analysis processes, and in the outputs from the inquiry. Those who have been most affected by the pandemic must be at the centre of the inquiry, and people must be heard in an inclusive, accessible and meaningful way.

The letter also outlines key issues raised by our members, which we believe should be included in its remit. These include:

  • Whether people who were left without essential social care experienced interferences and non-compliance with their human rights, for example through the reduction and removal of a significant proportion of social care packages.
  • Whether unpaid carers have received adequate support, funding and resources during the pandemic.
  • The impact of public health messaging and communication on individual health and wellbeing, including whether information was accessible, inclusive, and available in multiple formats.
  • The use of public finances, including the decision making process for resource allocation, and whether mechanisms were in place to embed core human rights principles such as transparency, participation and accountability in financial processes.
  • What steps have been taken to support people living with Long Covid, including access to care and support, and research.
  • How people with sensory loss were impacted by COVID-19, whether steps were taken to address accessibility issues, and whether people with sensory loss were included and consulted on decision making.
  • How disabled children and young people, and their families, were impacted by disruption to health and social care services, and whether disabled children and young people, and their families, were included and consulted on decision making.

You can read the full letter below.

You can also read the ALLIANCE response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the draft aims and principles of the inquiry.

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