Rights groups urge Stormont: drop Covid pass plans

Big Brother Watch Team / November 26, 2021

RIGHTS GROUPS URGE STORMONT: DROP COVID PASS PLANS

• Campaigners warn the scheme could breach Human Rights Act
Digital ads opposing Covid passes deployed across Northern Ireland
• Covid passes would “sacrifice equality, privacy and liberty, with no public health benefit”

Five rights groups have today written to MLAs in Stormont to raise rights and equalities concerns with Covid pass plans for Northern Ireland.

Big Brother Watch, Liberty, medConfidential, the Manifesto Club and Open Rights Group told MLAs a mandatory Covid pass scheme “would lead Northern Ireland towards a two-tier, checkpoint society”, have a “harmful discriminatory impact” and could breach the Human Rights Act.

The groups urge MLAs to vote against Covid pass plans, warning that “Covid-status certification schemes sacrifice equality, privacy and liberty, with no public health benefit.”

The letter comes as civil liberties organisation Big Brother Watch has launched an ad campaign in Northern Ireland rallying against Covid pass plans. The non-profit group recently launched legal action against the Welsh government for its mandatory Covid pass scheme, which it argues are “authoritarian, invasive and unevidenced”, and a breach of privacy rights.

The shock plan to make Covid passports mandatory in Northern Ireland was voted on by Ministers last week and is expected to be rolled out on Monday, although MLAs will not vote on the scheme until the following week. If MLAs vote in favour of the Covid pass scheme, it is expected to be legally enforced from 13th December.

QUOTES

Director of Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo, said:

“At this pivotal moment we urge MLAs to oppose Covid passports and instead adopt evidence-based, rights-respecting policies that actually work and support people rather than exclude, discriminate against or punish them.

“It’s now well-documented that similar Covid pass mandates in Scotland and Wales have resolutely failed to improve public health and yet have come at a high cost to liberty, equality, and social cohesion, not to mention businesses. As such, it’s shocking that ministers in Northern Ireland have attempted to rush ahead with these concerning plans.

“Mandatory Covid passes raise serious rights and equalities concerns and they must be opposed.”

ENDS

Notes

• Spokespeople are available for interviews. Contact Big Brother Watch’s 24h media line on 07730439257 or email info@bigbrotherwatch.org.uk
• The rights groups’ letter to MLAs is available here.
• Photos of Big Brother Watch’s ad campaign in Northern Ireland are available below.
• Big Brother Watch is encouraging citizens of Northern Ireland to email their MLAs to urge them to oppose Covid passports, using their template email.
• Details of Big Brother Watch’s legal action against the Welsh government is available here.
• Big Brother Watch’s campaign page is at stopvaccinepassports.co.uk