On Wednesday 8 April 2020, YLAL hosted its first virtual meeting, 'Human rights and access to justice during COVID-19'. We were joined by four expert speakers: Steve Broach (39 Essex Chambers), Steven Galliver-Andrew (Legal Sector Workers United), Jo Hynes (Public Law Project) and Bella Sankey (Detention Action).
Steve Broach spoke about the erosion of rights under the new legislation. He referred to Regulation 6 of the Coronavirus Regulations (‘When am I allowed to leave the house?’ outlining that the guidance is hugely problematic for people with mental health issues or autism and that the blanket policy was discriminatory. Due to his actions, the government has now amended guidance (paragraph 15 of Coronavirus Regulations).
Bella Sankey observed that those in immigration detention are particularly vulnerable; in immigration detention centres detainees are not provided with soap, and the bulk of cleaning is done by detainees themselves. This places hundreds of people at risk.
Jo Hynes referred to the Public law project’s survey on court and tribunal remote hearings. She articulated that many people who monitored remote hearings highlighted the issue of the lack of open justice and the problem of the huge backload of cases during COVID-19. Her findings were that there was a lack of guidance on effective participation in immigration tribunals, and that some hearings are not suitable for remote hearings.
Steven Galliver-Andrew represented LSW United, and draw to our attention the work that they have done recently in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. They have worked to protect conditions and reduce the reduction in salaries and layoffs, including published best practice. He also referred to the Pupils Protocol which was drafted with support from LSW United.
We are very grateful to YLAL member Lucie Betts for this write-up.