Study finds political decisions during pandemic’s first wave threatened basic human right to life of the most vulnerable Scots

Bad decisions by politicians during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic threatened the basic human right to life of the most vulnerable Scots, the research concludes.

People most at risk of serious illness and death, including residents of nursing homes and key workers, have been abandoned by public authorities, according to research by Amnesty International and Human Rights Consortium Scotland (HRCS) .

Amnesty has written to new Covid Recovery Minister John Swinney asking him to honor the SNP’s clear commitment to order an immediate public inquiry into the Scottish government’s handling of the pandemic.

Public authorities, such as the Scottish Government, Councils and Police, must protect and respect human rights law or face prosecution. A series of access to information requests to public authorities revealed that they did not comply with human rights law.

Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International’s Scotland program director, said: “As the whole country faced dramatic changes in lives and livelihoods, charities and frontline organizations began to ring in. the alarm that some of the most vulnerable people in society were being neglected and suffering much more. the impacts.

“Our evidence suggests that healthcare workers, people in need of social care, residents of nursing homes, people living in poverty, the elderly, women, people with disabilities and people of color do not. are just some of the people most exposed to poorly regarded decisions by public authorities. In the most serious cases, this lack of care has even affected their right to life.

Mhairi Snowden, director of the Human Rights Consortium Scotland, said: “Protecting human rights does not appear to have been a priority for many Scottish public authorities during Covid-19.”

After revealing that dozens of hospital patients with Covid had been transferred to care homes, the MSPs voted for an immediate public inquiry.

However, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Sunday Post last week that she wanted to wait for details of a UK-wide investigation, which is expected to start next year. The change of mind has been greeted with dismay by the grieving families of more than 3,000 people who have died in nursing homes.

Ahead of the Scottish elections, 22 leading organizations led by Amnesty joined together to urge the Prime Minister to launch an immediate public inquiry.

McAuliffe has now written to Swinney asking the Scottish government to investigate the first 100 days of the new administration. The letter said: “Carrying out the investigation in the middle phases, examining the decentralized areas for which the Scottish government has full responsibility in the first place, will negate the need to delay the process in favor of a four-nation approach.”

Amnesty and HRCS interviewed all local authorities, boards of health, Scottish police and the Scottish Prison Service about human rights-based decision making before the pandemic and during its first six months. He found that the number of human rights impact assessments informing policy had declined significantly.

The report states: ‘There were some examples of good practice, but overall the responses to this survey show that Scottish public authorities have largely failed to take steps to ensure that they meet their obligations in under human rights law in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. , and that human rights considerations have not been given priority. “

A separate study released last week by the Mental Welfare Commission found that transferring some elderly patients from hospitals to care homes during the height of the pandemic was illegal.

The Scottish government has said it will decide to conduct its own investigation once it assesses whether the UK-wide survey covers all issues relevant to Scotland.

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