Human rights and equalities
Human rights and equalities are important to the Inquiry and will be considered throughout all its work. Paragraph 7(b) of the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry’s Terms of Reference states that "the Inquiry will, as the Chair deems appropriate and necessary, consider the impacts of the strategic elements of the handling of the pandemic on the exercise of Convention rights (as defined in Section 1 of the Human Rights Act 1988". In addition, when reporting, the Inquiry is required "to demonstrate how a human rights-based approach by the Inquiry has contributed to the Inquiry's findings in facts and recommendations".
Fairness is of the utmost importance and will underpin the Inquiry’s decisions about its procedure and conduct. The Inquiry will report as soon as is practicable.
When the Inquiry investigates the 12 areas in its Terms of Reference, it will consider whether the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland had any adverse effects on the exercise of human rights. Paragraph 6(c) of the Terms of Reference refers to unequal impacts on people, and so includes consideration of inequalities arising from the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Inquiry has no power to determine any civil or criminal liability, including whether particular human and equality rights have been violated in individual cases.
The Inquiry will also ensure its work complies with human rights and equalities legislation.