Detailed data on those impacted by Covid-19, including those charged or detained under emergency powers, must be collected and published to ensure the State is meeting its human rights obligations.
That’s according to a number of organisations representing communities particularly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic which have written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar appealing for a human rights impact assessment to be carried out by May 5.
The letter expresses concern that "certain communities are suffering more than others under these restrictions" and that the assessment must be carried out before any extension of restrictions beyond that date.
The organisations want to see disaggregated statistics on infection and death rates, as well as statistics on infection and death rates in residential settings: "These statistics must be broken down by nationality, ethnicity, disability, gender and age. Where a person was living in a residential setting, it must be specified whether this was a care setting, a detention facility, or a Direct Provision centre. Where the person was in a care setting, it is vital we know if this was a setting for older people, people with disabilities, or people with mental health issues."
"We call on the Government to update and publish these figures on a regular basis, with due regard to the privacy of patients. This assessment should also provide data on people who have been arrested, charged or detained under the Emergency Health Regulations or for related reasons," states the letter.
The organisations also want to see information on where Garda checkpoints have been established and whether gardaí have been deployed equally across the State.
The letter was signed by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Inclusion Ireland, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), the Movement of Ayslum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), Mental Health Reform, Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, and Refugee and Migrant Solidarity Ireland (RAMSI).
It follows another open letter sent earlier this month to the Government signed by more than 920 prominent lawyers, doctors, public health officials and academics which claimed that the State may be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights unless it provides own-door accommodation to people living in Direct Provision.
Executive director of the ICCL, Liam Herrick, said it is crucial that human rights principles inform the public health response to the pandemic: "They can provide a blueprint for deciding which restrictions should be lifted first and how the gradual lifting of restrictions should take place."
This was echoed by Inclusion Ireland CEO, Enda Egan who said a public rights-centred approach protects all vulnerable groups: "Recent developments have seen those residing in care homes and other residential institutions becoming increasingly exposed to the virus, highlighting the need for both a public health response and a rights-based response to support these groups through this difficult period."
The letter was copied to Minister for Health Simon Harris; the Departments of Justice and of Health; the Garda Commissioner and the Policing Authority; and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.