International Day of Democracy 15 September
The unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has resulted in major social, political and legal challenges globally. As states around the world adopt emergency measures to address the crisis, it is critical that they continue to uphold the rule of law, protect and respect international standards and basic principles of legality, and the right to access justice, remedies and due process.
UN Secretary General António Guterres has urged governments to be transparent, responsive and accountable in their COVID-19 response and ensure that any emergency measures are legal, proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory. “The best response is one that responds proportionately to immediate threats while protecting human rights and the rule of law,” he said.
The Secretary-General's policy brief says states must respect and protect, among other rights, freedom of expression and of the press, freedom of information, freedom of association and of assembly. Concerns in many countries in the context of COVID-19 include:
- Measures to control the flow of information and crackdown on freedom of expression and press freedom against an existing background of shrinking civic space.
- Arrest, detention, prosecution or persecution of political opponents, journalists, doctors and healthcare workers, activists and others for allegedly spreading “fake news”.
- Aggressive cyber-policing and increased online surveillance.
- Postponement of elections is raising serious constitutional issues in some cases and may lead to rising tensions
The article's full-text is available here.
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