Scottish Human Rights Commission backs concerns over care homes rights breach

Outbreaks of COVID-19 in care homes have raised “serious human rights concerns” under Article 2 of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the right to life, the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has stated.

The intervention came in response to a letter from Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard this week which called on the Commission to launch an investigation into the Scottish Government’s treatment of care home residents. 

Mr Leonard set out concerns that the situation in care homes amounted to a breach of residents’ human rights.

The SHRC has responded to Mr Leonard’s letter, stating: “The situation experienced in care homes raises a number of serious human rights concerns under Article 2 of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the right to life.

“Human rights law is clear that everyone’s right to life must be protected by law and the state has a duty to take action when threats to life occur. The state has an obligation to undertake an investigation when life has been lost in circumstances that potentially engage state responsibility under Article 2.”

The SHRC has announced it will publish a briefing setting out the human rights framework relevant to the situation in care homes, to inform the scope of the public inquiry announced by the Scottish Government.

The Commission has said the inquiry must be “independent, prompt, determine responsibility, subject to public scrutiny and must allow for the involvement of next-of-kin” in line with human rights law.

Mr Leonard said: “The right to life is the most sacred right of all, and the Scottish Government has a duty to ensure it is protected for all citizens, and especially for those in residential care.

“I welcome the Scottish Human Rights Commission’s statement, which raises highly significant and potentially grave questions about both the situation in our care homes and whether the Scottish Government has exercised its duty to protect Scotland’s most vulnerable citizens.

“The Commission is right to call for the public inquiry to be independent, prompt and determine responsibility for the serious failings in our care homes, as well as for it to be based on a human rights framework. Ministers should now confirm that they will adhere to these principles.”

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.

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