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‘Covid passes’ should respect common human rights and rule of law standards, says PACE rapporteur

“National and international authorities considering the introduction of ‘Covid pass’ systems should bear in mind the basic standards of human rights and the rule of law as set out in the report by the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)," said Damien Cottier (Switzerland, ALDE), the Assembly's rapporteur on Covid passes or certificates: protection of fundamental rights and legal implications.

“These include the precautionary principle, which requires well-established certainty about any relevant aspect of the medical situation before any restriction is lifted, even partially; safeguards against discrimination (in this regard, access to a certificate, whether one is vaccinated, tested or has recovered from Covid is important); a clear legal basis; data protection safeguards; measures to prevent counterfeiting or other criminal misuse; and a cut-off date to prevent an unjustified extension of the pass or other abuse,” he added.

“It remains imperative that states continue to implement the full range of public health measures needed to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under long-term control. The introduction of Covid passes can be a useful way out of the crisis, but it must be done within a clear framework and must not undermine the social solidarity needed to limit the spread of the disease, nor give an excessive sense of security to its holders, nor divert valuable resources from measures that would benefit the whole population, in particular vaccination, protection or assistance measures,” he concluded.

Mr Cottier’s report is due to be debated by the Assembly at its forthcoming plenary session (21-24 June 2021).