10 December 2021:
R&RA has signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, alongside 159 organisations, challenging him to secure our human rights protections in the UK. We are concerned that the Government is reviewing the Human Rights Act, particularly during a global pandemic which has seen the rights of older people undermined by the Government’s mismanagement of the virus.
The letter is published on Human Rights Day, marked across the globe each year on 10 December. Highlighting the disproportionate and discriminatory effects of the pandemic and government measures on too many, including people living in care, the letter calls for recovery to be focused on upholding human rights. Yet this week the Justice Secretary restated the Government’s intention to consult on the future of the Human Rights Act.
The timing of this review is incredibly troubling, as people in care are facing the most sustained and catastrophic attack on their human rights we’ve ever seen. Having put lives at risk at the beginning of the pandemic the Government then swung dramatically to the other extreme, imposing severe restrictions on movements in and out of care homes for residents and their families. For people already in vulnerable situations the harm has been devastating, including to lives, wellbeing, liberty and autonomy.
For Frances, 100 years old and living in care, the isolation she faces means her care home “doesn’t feel like my home” and she pleas “give me back my human rights and freedom the same as the rest of the country. I fought for our freedom!” R&RA produced a video sharing her story of living through COVID in care.
Rather than reviewing the law which protects our human rights in the UK, the Government should be putting their energy into ending the human rights crisis in care they have overseen for the past 21 months. With a public inquiry around the corner, it is not too late to learn from mistakes and ensure our route out of the pandemic is fair, united and just. Human rights were born out of crisis in the aftermath of WWII, they can help us out of this one.