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Amnesty issues damning report on Tory failures

‘CLIFF EDGE’: Charity slams virus response and crackdown on protest

by Niall Christie

Scotland editor

BRITAIN’S high Covid-19 death rate, the scandal of care home deaths and the ongoing assault on the public’s right to protest have been singled out in a new report on the inequalities exposed throughout the pandemic. 

A report published today by Amnesty International singled out the British government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, highlighting the country’s “shameful” record. 

The charity’s 2020 annual report outlines Britain’s poor response to the global pandemic, including the violation of both the right to health and the right to life of care home residents.

Amnesty highlighted failures to provide adequate PPE and regular testing in clinical and care settings, as well as the discharge of infected patients from hospitals to care homes. 

Amnesty’s report also criticises the government’s ongoing refusal to conduct an urgent independent inquiry into its handling of the pandemic, with ministers saying this would be allowed at an unspecified future time. 

The extremely high overall death toll from the pandemic in the UK is also identified as a matter of very serious concern, including the disproportionate death rate among black and minority ethnic healthcare workers. 

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: “Having made mistake after lethal mistake during the pandemic, the government is now shamefully trying to strip away our right to lawfully challenge its decisions, no matter how poor they are.”

The report also expressed concerns about the lack of avenues now available to challenge government decisions. 

The reappraisal of judicial review and the ongoing review of the Human Rights Act were highlighted, while Amnesty said the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill threatens to seriously restrict the right to peaceful protest. 

Amnesty warned that taken together the legislative moves could severely curtail the right to peaceably challenge the government or protest in Britain.

Ms Allen added: “For years, Britain has been moving in the wrong direction on human rights —but things are now getting worse at an accelerating rate.

“On the right to protest, on the Human Rights Act, on accountability for coronavirus deaths, on asylum, on arms sales or on trade with despots — we’re speeding towards the cliff edge.

“We need to stop this headlong rush into abandoning our human rights.”

The government has been approached for comment.

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