Greens demand inquiry into institutional racism and Covid deaths

“It has been clear from the start that this review simply was not going to go far enough because it was never going to address the institutional racism that affects people of colour, particularly in the context of Covid-19.” Greens of Colour Chairperson Azzees Minnot demands an independent inquiry into the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and minority ethnic people (BAME).

An image of Azzees Minott
An image of Azzees Minott

Image: Azzees Minott 

Olivia Rutherford

The Green Party has called for an independent inquiry into the “disproportionate impact” of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and minority ethnic people (BAME).

Greens of Colour Chairperson Azzees Minott stated the Public Health England report released on Tuesday (2 June) had “let communities of colour down”. 

The report considered different factors contributing to disparities in the risk and outcomes from Covid-19 such as age, sex and ethnicity, suggesting that Covid-19 has a “disproportionate impact” on BAME groups. 

Regarding ethnicity, the report stated that mortality rates are “higher in those in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups than in White ethnic groups.” 

Evidence from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) report published on 22 May found that 15.2 per cent and 9.7 per cent of critically ill patients were from Asian and Black ethnic groups respectively, despite representing 6.9 per cent and three per cent of the population.

The Public Health England report states BAME people could be at increased risk of acquiring the infection because they are “more likely to live in urban areas, in overcrowded households, in deprived areas, and have jobs that expose them to higher risk”.

However, Minott claims the government report does not “go far enough”; failing to consider “institutional racism, particularly in the context of Covid-19” and “deliberately” omitting “the impact of public health cuts, the experience of BAME frontline staff and the effectiveness of government messaging” in its findings. 

Correspondingly, Rehana Azam, National Secretary from the trade union GMB, said: “The prime minister has said this virus doesn’t discriminate, but the response to the Covid crisis and the lives lost are both most definitely discriminatory. 

“In the context of global events, with the spotlight on structural and institutional racism, the publication of this report which carries no recommendations is just going to heighten distrust of the claim that all lives matter to the government.”

Last month, Green Party Home Affairs spokesperson and former Deputy Leader Dr Shahrar Ali wrote for Green World on the racial and social inequality underlined by the current pandemic, saying: “We owe it to each and every one of us to grasp the nettle and to make good on the collective objective to create a decent and fair society – where race is no barrier to life chances, or chance of death from Covid.”

Commenting on the need for an independent inquiry, Minott said: “The government’s inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on BAME people has let communities of colour down.

“It has been clear from the start that this review simply was not going to go far enough because it was never going to address the institutional racism that affects people of colour, particularly in the context of Covid-19.

“We have known since the beginning of this crisis that communities of colour are more at risk because of the social injustices that result in wide health, housing and employment inequalities within society.

“It is simply not acceptable that this report deliberately left out the impact of public health cuts, the experience of BAME frontline staff and the effectiveness of government messaging.

“It is also extremely worrying to hear reports that Matt Hancock’s office may have removed key parts of the report which showed how discrimination and poorer life chances played a part in the increased risk to communities of colour. 

“We are backing the wider calls for an independent inquiry. It is time for the demands of the We Need Answers campaign to be heard.”