“In times of pandemic, human life and public health should be kept at the top of our priorities regardless of the problems in the economic activity and by trying also to minimize the negative consequences for democracy, the rule of law and human rights,” said Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, the Greek Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, addressing the PACE Standing Committee today. “The uninterrupted activity of institutions in the member States can contribute significantly to contain the negative effects of the crisis on society, social cohesion, economy and employment,” he added.
He highlighted the efforts made in this context as regards the issue of violence against women and domestic violence that came to surface in a more pressing manner than before, deploring that some member States had expressed their will to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention.
“The Athens Declaration on the protection of democracy, rule of law and human rights in times of pandemic – under preparation and due to be adopted on 4th November at the 130th session of the Committee of Ministers in Athens – will address key issues that we will have to tackle,” Mr Varvitsiotis said.
The Standing Committee will hold on 13 October a series of debates on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on democracies, human rights and the rule of law, equality, as well as on migrants and refugees.