Sweeping measures that could last for two years and see a wide-scale reduction of our civil liberties and what we regard popularly as our human rights will, without doubt be affected by the Government’s ‘Coronavirus Bill’. Areas of mass concern include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Mental Health Act – measures taken to allow authorities to detain people suspected of mental health issues and for increasingly long periods of time. The method of identifying of a person with mental health issues will change from requiring two doctors’ professional opinion to now, just one.
  • Civil Liberties – we have already seen the closure of schools and this can be replicated to many other areas of society, for example the forced closure of borders, or the banning of public gatherings, imposed curfews, military control of public streets etc.
  • Disability Rights – if necessary, the Government can allow local authorities to decide to divert resources, financing and manpower to locally identified priority areas. This leaves people with disabilities at risk from having resources stripped away from services for them to other areas.
  • Detention – Police, Immigration and Public Health authorities are given power to detain anyone suspected of having COVID-19.
  • Handling of Deceased – Possibly most controversial of all, the Coronavirus Bill essentially allows the Government to decide on the method of processing the deceased members of the public with a stipulated method being cremation. This has received backlash from Jewish and Muslim communities as cremations are recognised as being against their religious teachings. Funerals could also possibly be allowed to be conducted without family present and with or without video access for the grieving family. A petition to withdraw this clause has already gathered in excess of 175,000 signatures. As a result the Government withdrew this portion of the bill and has allowed for funerals to take place with immediate family members.

The UK is not the only country to announce such Draconian steps and although the need to protect populations is without a doubt unprecedented, it is also vital for our long-term future that our rights and liberties are not adversely affected.
Things are not much better elsewhere, with the US administration of Donald Trump seeking to invoke a Cold War time act which allows the Federal Government to stop production in factories and instead force the factory to produce items and supplies seen as essential for the national effort. Across Europe, enforced lockdowns are in place across capitals in Spain, Italy and Germany. With these lock downs we see the surfacing of laws and legislations that haven’t been seen across the globe simultaneously in peace time.

And whilst it is essential that Governments rightfully try to intervene and save lives by limiting the spread of infection, again, it must not compromise the rights of the general public. Many a meme has compared the conditions that many of us now face with strict restrictions that have been enforced in places such as Gaza, Kashmir, Syria and across the Rohingya camps. And just as we try and resist those restrictions because of the fundamental erosion of people’s rights, we must also ensure that the restrictions of our liberties and rights now in these worrying times do not adversely affect us further down the line or in ways that we haven’t yet accounted for.

Now is the time for supporting one another and ensuring that we are all providing any means of assistance particularly to the most vulnerable amongst us. Now is the time for communities to build bridges and to pull in the same direction as we face strange and uncertain times. Now is also the time to ensure that our rights and freedoms are not taken away from us under the guise of protection but causing us any manner of suffering in weeks, months and possibly years to come. It’s important to remain positive and hopeful but also aware, fully, of any unnecessary movements by our governments and whilst we should remain united at these times, it does not mean we should not question and challenge any degradation of our rights.

Restless Beings will be an ever present in the protection of our human rights both nationally and internationally and we will ensure that any flagrant abuse of our core human rights is flagged up, called out and addressed.

One of our first actions is to provide immediate support to Rohingya in the camps in Bangladesh by providing essential and possibly life saving materials such as face masks, soaps for hand washing and paracetamol and vitamin/saline powder. You can support this by clicking on the image below. Each pack costs just £3.

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