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COVID-19: Committee chairs discuss the pandemic, human rights and the rule of law with Council of Europe experts

Spanish police stop and warn the citizens to get back to their houses as a quarantine is set after the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

In two videos released today on the Assembly’s YouTube channel, Boriss Cilevics (Latvia, SOC), chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, and Vladimir Vardanyan (Armenia, EPP/CD), chairperson of the Sub-committee on Human Rights, discuss the impact of COVID-19 on human rights and the rule of law with representatives of select Council of Europe bodies.

“With the Assembly’s usual working methods blocked, Vladimir and I decided to use technological alternatives in order to access the Council of Europe’s wealth of expertise,” said Mr Cilevics. “These experts’ answers to our questions will prove invaluable for our committee’s future report on the impact of COVID-19 on human rights and the rule of law.”

“Boriss and I are both very pleased with the results, which will be shared with committee members and the general public,” added Mr Vardanyan. “On behalf of us both, I would like to thank all of the experts for their time and contributions.”

With Dunja Mijatovic, Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Cilevics and Mr Vardanyan discuss the compatibility of national emergency measures with human rights and democracy, the situation of members of vulnerable groups, misinformation and freedom of expression, and the possible legacy of the crisis.

With Nicos Alivizatos, rapporteur on states of emergency of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), they discuss states of emergency, democratic limitations on emergency powers and derogations to the European Convention on Human Rights.

With Mykola Gnatovskyy, President of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), they discuss the situation of persons deprived of their liberty, measures to reduce prison populations and reduce the risk of infection, and how the CPT and its national equivalents were adapting to the current situation.

With Alessandra Pierucci, Chairperson of the Consultative Committee of Convention 108 (the data protection convention), they discuss the difficulty of simultaneously protecting health, privacy and freedom of movement, and the data protection implications of tracking apps.

With Georg Stawa, former President of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), they discuss the functioning of judicial systems under lock-down, including the use of remote hearings and the prioritisation of different types of case.

[Links to the first and second videos]