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The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has provided a Response to Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into the Government’s Response to COVID-19: Human Rights Implications.

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Response to Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into the Government’s Response to COVID-19: Human Rights Implications

Last Updated: Friday, 16 April 2021

Read the Commission’s response to Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into the Government’s Response to COVID-19: Human Rights Implications.

Date produced April 2020.

Below is a summary of the recommendations.

You can also download the full document through the links provided.

  • 2.3 The NIHRC recommends that the emergency legislation is only in place for no longer than absolutely necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the contained powers are only utilised when it is necessary and proportionate to do so.
  • 3.9 The NIHRC recommends that when reconfiguring services and redirecting resources full account is taken of the impact on other vulnerable patients and groups and that full cognisance is taken of the need to ensure the highest attainable standard of health for all is pursued. This includes ensuring care arrangements are subject to constant review and triage protocols are developed and implemented based on medical needs and the best scientific evidence available.
  • 3.10 The NIHRC recommends that provision for visitors in exceptional circumstances is extended to relatives of patients receiving palliative care in all settings.
  • 3.11 The NIHRC recommends that medicine prices are capped or subsidised to ensure accessibility to all.
  • 3.12 The NIHRC recommends that comprehensive guidance is immediately provided to clinicians on terminations in NI, in light of the Abortion (NI) Regulations 2020, and State sponsored provision is made immediately available for telemedicine terminations up to 10 weeks in Northern Ireland on the same terms as England, Scotland and Wales.
  • 3.14 The NIHRC recommends detention powers are only used as a last resort and for no longer than is necessary on a case-bycase basis. The use of these powers should also be effectively monitored and any concerns with their use promptly addressed.
  • 3.17 The NIHRC recommends additional educational and health and social care support during and after the crisis is available for children particularly affected by school closures, including making broadband and computer arrangements to ensure all children have access to the internet.
  • 3.19 The NIHRC recommends, where required, additional financial support is available to ensure childcare challenges presented by school closures do not increase household poverty due to loss of earnings.
  • 3.23 The NIHRC recommends that the two-child limit and the benefit cap are removed.
  • 3.24 The public funds test should be suspended during the pandemic.
  • 3.27 The NIHRC recommends all evictions are prohibited during the COVID-19 crisis and those that the homeless are provided with adequate, accommodation which meets their needs.
  • 3.29 The NIHRC recommends utilising the extension of data retention is effectively monitored to ensure it is not disproportionately relied on to enhance government surveillance. Any provision should apply for no longer than necessary and be open and transparent in its implementation.
  • 3.31 The NIHRC recommends exceptions are permitted and additional specialised support is available to ensure the most vulnerable are not in harm’s way, particularly those relying on carers, experiencing mental ill-health, or subject to domestic or residential abuse.