Statement: Commissioner on the proposed Covid-19 inquiry

In a statement, Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner, Scotland said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been a human rights crisis and the impact on children and young people serious and potentially long-lasting. Children and young people’s rights to education, health, family life and to gather with friends have all been infringed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Those whose rights were already at risk have suffering most; there’s been a disproportionate impact on children living in poverty, disabled children, care-experienced children, young carers, and children from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

“Young people have told us that an Inquiry into the pandemic is an important part of understanding and learning from the experience. The Inquiry should consider issues that we have raised consistently since the beginning of the pandemic. Much of the emergency legislation was passed by the Scottish and UK Parliaments at speed and without the opportunity for robust or detailed scrutiny. Parliaments play a critical role as human rights guarantors and as such need the time, capacity and evidence to hold governments to account. This week some of our Young Advisers met with the Covid-19 Recovery Committee to help support their work, but over the last 18 months the voices of children in have often been lost.

“Last year my office published an analysis of how emergency laws and policies around the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the human rights of children and young people in Scotland. Among the recommendations for government was to address the fact that children and young people’s rights to participate in decisions had been largely ignored. Their voices and experiences were loudly absent when it came to life-changing decisions made particularly around education, mental health support, social interaction, financial support, and for children in conflict with the law. Scotland must examine if the reality has lived up to the rhetoric of treating children and young people as rights-holders, and not as passive recipients of care or charity. It is by including children and young people that we make the best policy decisions for them.

“The commitment to take a rights-based approach to the Inquiry is therefore even more significant and I look forward to seeing the structures within which we make decisions fundamentally rethought in order to enable children to take an active role in their own lives.”

“Life-changing decisions being made in coronavirus has felt like playing a game. But every time it has been our turn someone skips over us, and we end up left behind and forgotten.” Abigail, 15.

Back to top