Covid in Scotland: Government’s plan to permanently block powers “may be illegal”

Covid in Scotland: Government's plan to permanently block powers

The commissioner for children warned there are plans to give Scotland ministers permanent powers to lift the lockdown and close schools if another pandemic could break human rights laws.

Bruce Adamson said he had “significant concerns” about the Scottish government’s plan to keep passing some emergency laws as COVID affected the law permanently.

These include the power to impose a national blockade, the closure of schools and order court hearings to be held remotely, without first consulting the Scottish Parliament.

Adamson said that even if the powers were not used, they could still violate the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) because they would no longer be limited in time.

He expressed concern in a presentation to the MSP of Holyrood Education CommitteeThose considering the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) Act (Scotland).

The law creates new laws to respond to public health emergencies, similar to emergency laws introduced after the COVID pandemic.

It also includes other improvements such as the ability to register births and deaths by telephone, without the need to visit the registry office in person.

Ministers say the changes will allow Scotland to maintain some of the beneficial changes needed in response to the pandemic, as well as allow future governments to respond more quickly to similar crises in the future.

But some opposition politicians have argued that the law amounts to an “unfair and unacceptable takeover” and think the bill should be repealed.

In his presentation, Adamson stressed that some of the emergency laws passed when Covid “constituted some of the most serious interference with the human rights of the general population of this country since the Universal Declaration on Human Rights more than 70 years ago”. was adopted”.

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He said that while they were “legitimate, necessary, proportionate and limited in time” at the time, they would not be so if they were put to use by future governments.

“Permanent powers that by definition allow serious interference with human rights do not satisfy the need to be limited in time,” he said.

“Even if not used, they cannot be valid under Article 15 of the ECHR.

Instead of having “rights” on the books “or” just in case, the government needs to make sure that in anticipation of any future emergency, the government needs to make sure it has a bill ready and controlled. has been placed in.

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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