Coronavirus

How and why Liberty Investigates is reporting on coronavirus

Posted by Katharine Quarmby on 16 Apr 2020

Liberty Investigates started life in autumn 2019, as a small, editorially independent unit based within the UK rights organisation, Liberty. We aim to use our journalism to uncover injustice, hold the powerful to account and to empower others through the evidence we assemble to defend their own rights and those of their family, friends and communities.

As we gathered together evidence for our launch, we were sidelined by the global coronavirus crisis. We decided to refocus our launch and to look at how human rights in the UK would be affected by the pandemic. We will use our launch to warn of potential human rights violations and raise awareness of actual abuse.

We will scrutinise the measures taken by the government to address the pandemic, to see how human rights are being affected as a whole in the UK, and we will also highlight the impact of measures taken on particular groups which are already discriminated against, who are being further disadvantaged at this time.

Get in touch

We are really interested in hearing from you. Please drop us a line to libertyinvestigates@libertyhumanrights.org.uk.

We will keep adding to our coronavirus coverage, with news pieces, investigations, interviews and features. At the moment, the team is unable to physically visit people, but we hope that may change as restrictions ease. For the moment, we will be doing remote reportage as we are all confined to our homes. We will also be holding some listening sessions remotely, with the first one being on how disabled people are faring during the pandemic.

Mirren Gidda reports on what is in the Coronavirus Act and why we should be concerned about it. Eleanor Rose reports on the fears of chaos in prisons and immigration detention centres, as our analysis highlights prior failures to contain outbreaks of deadly infection. I will look at the crisis in social care and fears about healthcare rationing, focusing on disabled people in particular at this stage. In addition, Bns Tanni Grey-Thompson presents the first in a series of comment pieces by experts, looking at how the rights of disabled people are affected by the pandemic.

We will focus on those who are most affected, speaking up and supporting them to speak for themselves.

In future articles, we will look at surveillance, and the balance between stringency measures and civil liberties. We will keep a watching brief on prisons, policing, counter-terror and the rights of children at risk of harm. I will kick off our scrutiny of Gypsy, Roma and Travellers rights, asking how already marginalised communities with health inequalities will cope with Covid-19. We will measure how people living in poverty, such as homeless people, are being particularly affected by the pandemic.

We are interested in any stories you can bring us, and will explore creative story-telling opportunities, as well as creative ways to reach you and hear your thoughts, such as remote listening sessions.

We are also interested in publishing comment pieces from academics, experts by experience, lawyers, educationalists and others, who want to point up their concerns about particular issues. Tanni Grey-Thompson kicks off that series. Please contact us if you would like to contribute.

We promise to provide journalism that is thoroughly fact-checked, balanced and that shines a light on all our rights, including those of groups that will be hardest hit.

In all our coverage, we promise to provide journalism that is thoroughly fact-checked, balanced and that shines a light on all our rights, including those of groups that will be hardest hit. We will focus on those who are most affected, speaking up and supporting them to speak for themselves. We will hold those responsible to account and provide the evidence that our members and the general public need to campaign for change.

We will deliver investigations and reportage that cut through fear and misinformation. Our job as human rights journalists is to help to shine a light on the decisions made by public authorities and private institutions, wherever they could infringe civil liberties.

We are launching at a time when governments are cracking down on press freedom – and a fall in advertising is having a devastating effect on the media, with news organisations either folding or laying off journalists. This is just at a time when factual information is needed most. It is all the more important, therefore, that we produce effective, useful and accurate journalism in the public interest.