Nicola Sturgeon says human rights issues outweighed by right to not get Covid-19

Nicola Sturgeon has said people’s human right not to be infected with a serious virus is more important than other human rights considerations.

There have been claims that the human rights of students may have been breached by the restrictions
There have been claims that the human rights of students may have been breached by the restrictions

The Scotsman revealed exclusively today there were fears that universities had opened themselves up to being in the “firing line” for potential legal action over the restrictions imposed on students over the weekend, particularly due to the threats of potential expulsion if students were found to have broken the rules.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has also written to the Scottish Human Rights Commission asking for an urgent probe into whether the measures breached the human rights of students.

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The First Minister, asked whether the Scottish Government had considered the potential legal ramifications of the guidance, which was signed off by higher education minister Richard Lochhead before being issued by Universities Scotland, said the law had been considered.

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She said: “Yes, we consider the law when we pass regulations as we are obliged to do.

"The restrictions that are on students, the advice over the weekend to stay at home from pubs is an additional intervention to try to stem the spread, was advice. It was a request that I think most students have complied with.

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"The other advice to students, for example not mixing between different households within student accommodation, is the same that applies to all of us.”

Ms Sturgeon said the restrictions were along the lines of those in place for all Scots, and added the human right not to get infected by Covid-19 was more important than other human right considerations.

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She said: "All of us are finding out freedoms restricted right now, none of us want to be in that position but we hope that it will be something that is relatively short-lived as we get this virus back under control.

"Ultimately, we all take and I take human rights very, very seriously but ultimately I think we all take seriously our human right not, if possible, to get infected by a virus that might make us very ill or in extreme cases kill us.

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"We try to balance all of these things as carefully and as seriously as possible.”

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