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Rights and freedoms are a victim of measures to combat COVID-19

 Rights and freedoms are a victim of measures to combat COVID-19


Paris: In 2020, response measures to the COVID-19 pandemic have limited the freedom of the world, weakened advocates for less democratic countries, and strengthened the possibility of a Western legal status shift to a new, more authoritarian paradigm.

The Guinean government has banned demonstrations until further notice, claiming to combat the emerging coronavirus. Since the end of 2019, after opposition demonstrations killed dozens of people, Alpha Conde has been appointed as the third president in mid-December, in the presence of dozens of African heads of state.

When the security measures came into effect, violence by the security forces and the military caused many deaths in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, the tracking system used the anti-virus pretext to cancel individual prosecutions against citizens.

Due to the pandemic, Bolivia postponed elections for several months. In France, citizens must fill out a form to leave their homes.


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The non-governmental organization International Concept said that by the end of November, "more than half of the world's countries (61%) have taken measures to combat COVID-19, which has raised people's concerns about democracy and human rights."

This is not limited to non-democratic countries, there are also "widespread problems in democratic countries."

The United Nations Commissioner warns

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has warned since April that "given the special nature of this crisis, it is clear that the country needs more strength." But, she added, "with and at the same time, if the rule of law is not adhered to, there is a risk that emergency medical and health care will develop into a human rights disaster."

The American non-governmental organization Freedom House estimates: "Since the emergence of the new Corona virus, the democratic and human rights conditions have regressed in 80 countries." The organization that exercises control, such as the Sri Lankan government, which is a "model for public attitudes".

"In recent months we have seen (Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa) how to strengthen his power," Pavani Fonseca, a lawyer who studies human rights at the Center for Political Alternatives in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, told AFP.

He added: "This is being done under the pretext of responding to the epidemic, but the constitution must also be reviewed to strengthen the executive authority and weaken the counterforce."



Sri Lankan, President

China: severe crackdown

The Chinese authorities have adopted severe crackdowns, strict isolation of large areas, and extensive inspection and surveillance of drones. And it announced that it had successfully contained the virus, although its statistics were not transparent.

Researcher Hafsa Halawa (Hafsa Halawa) wrote in a report by the American think tank "Atlantic Council" that in Egypt "the country is referred to by its authoritarian approach and its political and civil scope. It is known for its shrinkage, which allowed the epidemic to give President (Abdel Fattah El-Sisi) an opportunity to enact repressive laws. And implementation, thus strengthening current practices. " And Italy's International Policy Institute.

The non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders reported that, with the encouragement of the emergency law, there was a widespread violation of freedom of the press. In mid-December, 14 journalists were arrested for following the epidemic in Asia (seven in China, two in Bangladesh and one in Myanmar), the Middle East (two in Iran and one in Jordan) and Africa (one in Rwanda) were imprisoned.

Impact of the Pandemic on Liberal Democracies

The impact of the pandemic is not limited to the freedom of countries with dictatorships or free regimes, but its impact can also be monitored in liberal democracies, but to a lesser extent.

Measures taken against the virus have gradually changed the rule of law. Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben said, "They can be interpreted as symptoms and signs of a wider experience, the essence of which is the new paradigm of human judgment."

The European Parliament warned in November that "the authority of the state of emergency may cause an abuse of its power by the executive authority and may continue to be effective in the national legal framework when the state of emergency ends."

In Paris, Berlin, and London, people used to live freely within the limits of laws and regulations for decades, but curfews, bans on gatherings and closures of shops became restrictions. Before that, other control measures were taken in the fight against terrorism.

Giorgio Agamben said: “What happened today marks the end of the rule of law and the bourgeois democratic order. The bourgeois democratic system has undergone profound changes.”

The Italian philosopher estimated in his book “Permitted Persons”: “The voluntary establishment of a permanent state of emergency (even if it is not declared technically) has become the basis of contemporary countries (including those we call democracies) ... practice.”

Laurelin Fontaine, professor of public law and constitutional studies at Sorbonne Nouvelle, explained that medical emergencies in France, for example, "are very similar to security emergencies" and have established permanent changes. "

Fontaine believes that "political speeches tend to emphasize the specificity of the state of emergency. On the other hand, changes to the law are not temporary."

In addition, the control does not always fulfill its intended role. "The idea is that the constitution is the most effective tool for restraining power. Today, this is no longer the case. The rules regarding the role and functions of the constitution are collapsing," said Fang Dan.

For example, in March when the French Constitutional Council decided to issue a law against the Covid-19 epidemic: “In light of this special situation, it is impossible to conclude that this law is approved in the procedure stipulated in this chapter of the constitution and Article 46

Fontaine said this was "unprecedented in the history of the Fifth Republic." Fontaine believes: "People generally accept the principle of achieving the desired goal. Therefore, we used the most important thing as an excuse to be mobile and vigilant about how the law is formulated."

"In the last 20 years, I have noticed a kind of disdain with the law for the sake of performance," she concluded.


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