In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, preserve health systems and save human lives, governments around the world have taken measures that limit the exercise of individual freedoms and question the principle of the Rule of Law. From widespread disinformation, to harshly enforced lockdowns and invasive data collection, have State responses to the challenges of COVID-19 been proportionate and justified?
This week we published a report on The Rule of Law in Times of Health Crises in partnership with Advocates for International Development's ROLE UK Programme and the Global Health Academy of the University of Edinburgh. Identifying ten shared principles between health crises and the Rule of Law, this publication examines domestic and international structures that determine the ability of the Rule of Law to prevail during public emergencies.
Next week we look towards Parliament debating the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings on Public Transport) (England) Regulations 2020 on 6th and 8th July. These Regulations mandate the wearing of face coverings on public transport. However, no impact assessment has been carried out to determine the effect this will have on BAME communities or those from lower socio-economic groups.
In a short blog post , Dr Ronan Cormacain asks some key questions around the impact these Regulations will have on equality under the law. In a more detailed Report here there is a broader Rule of Law scrutiny of this legislation. Although broadly welcoming the Regulations, the Report criticises some Rule of Law failings, for example too much enforcement power given to Transport for London staff, lack of sound law-making procedures, lack of accessibility and intelligibility of the law and reduced scope for review and oversight.
Read our full Weekly Update here