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Human rights should guide coronavirus response

10 December:

R&RA have joined 100+ organisations calling for the Prime Minister and our political leaders to ensure the response to the pandemic protects the equal human dignity of all people. The open letter calls for human rights protections to help guide the COVID-19 response and recovery, recognising that human rights were born of disaster, in the aftermath of WWII. 

The letter is published on Human Rights Day, marked across the globe each year on 10 December. This year Human Rights Day has particular significance, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a devastating impact across the world. Here in England, the continued isolation of older people is creating a human rights crisis in care, as R&RA warned last month.

Highlighting that older people, disabled people, BAME communities and many others have disproportionately suffered, the letter calls on the Government to ensure no-one is left behind: “human rights legislation offers a way to navigate this maze, to balance risk with rights”.

The letter comes days after the Government appointed a panel to review the Human Rights Act (the law protecting our human rights in the UK) and raises concerns that political rhetoric is again turning towards questioning our laws, and that people’s ability to seek accountability will be reduced. It calls on the Prime Minister and political leaders to stand firm on our shared values and the Human Rights Act.

The Government’s mismanagement of the pandemic has undermined the rights of older people needing care, with dire and tragic consequences. Legal challenges using the Human Rights Act are in motion and a public inquiry is on the horizon, where the Government will have to answer for failing the social care sector. The protection afforded by the Human Rights Act has never been so vital for older people needing care.


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