COVID-19 and Human Rights

As the outbreak of COVID-19 continues, it is important that governments keep human rights and fundamental freedoms at the heart of measures to combat the pandemic. Through their mandate, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) play a crucial role in ensuring that human rights are not forgotten in such uncertain times.

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Now is the time for solidarity on human rights

As the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic develops, governments have taken broad and strict measures to reduce the virus’ spread. In these responses, all human rights must be kept at the heart, as they can help us in overcoming this public health challenge while protecting our dignity and democratic freedoms.
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The EU must put economic and social rights at the heart of its economic response to COVID-19

We welcome the EU’s steps to stimulate the economy and support livelihoods in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is crucial that all human rights, including economic and social rights guide the implementation of such measures.
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Examples of how NHRIs are responding

  • People’s Advocate Supports Restrictive Measures But Calls For Responsibility From Authorities (Albanian)
  • People’s Advocate Raises Voice Of Risk Intensification Of Violence Against Women In Conditions Of Isolation Imposed By Covid-19 (Albanian)
  • People’s Advocate Requires Special Attention Towards Civil Society Sector In This Difficult Period (Albanian)
  • People’s Advocate Encourages Increasing the Use of Sign Language in Public Official Communications (Albanian)
  • People’s Advocate Reacts to Clashes in Skanderbeg Square, underlining the need for proportionate measures and respect of basic freedoms (Albanian)
  • Human Rights Defender on the coronavirus pandemic (Armenian)
  • Recommendations on laws restricting the privacy of correspondence and other rights (English, Armenian)
  • Monitoring of the situation with regard to domestic violence during the State of Emergency (English, Armenian)
  • Legal implications of the Coronavirus (German)
  • Frequently Asked Questions around Covid-19 restrictions (German)
  • Citizens’ Attorney: 24-Hour Support Requires A Change Of System (German)
  • Attorney General Werner Amon Comments On The Coronavirus Measures (German)
  • Nursing Homes: End Isolation With Creative Solutions (German)
  • Volksanwalt Achitz: End Ban On Visits To Facilities For People With Disabilities (German)
  • High school exams, childcare, artists and services in the Corona crisis (German)
  • Citizens’ Attorney: Are The Authorities Exaggerating The Quarantine? (German)
  • The Ombudsman addressed the nation with regard to the Coronavirus epidemic (English)
  • Statement for effective protection of the rights of migrants (English)
  • Statement on child rights protection during the COVID-19 outbreak (English)
  • Statement on the rights of people deprived of their liberty (English)
  • Video to support the awareness raising national campaign #StayAtHome
  • Statement on the rights of persons with disabilities and older persons in social service facilities (English)
  • Joint statement “COVID-19: protective measures while respecting fundamental rights” (Dutch, French)
  • Combat Poverty Service – To leave no one behind: attention and support for people in situations of poverty and precariousness within the framework of measures relating to COVID-19 (Dutch, French)
  • Combat Poverty Service – Overview of COVID-19 measures in support of situations of poverty and precariousness, April (Dutch, French)
  • Unia – Recommendation on equal access to persons with disabilities in the supermarkets (Dutch, French)
  • Unia – Open letter on the right of housing for healthcare workers (Dutch, French)
  • Unia – Recommendation on equal access to care for older persons and  persons with disabilities (Dutch, French)
  • Unia and Combat Poverty Service – Recommendation to schools and universities to pay special attention to vulnerable groups (Dutch, French)
  • Combat Poverty Service – Overview of COVID-19 measures in support of situations of poverty and precariousness, May (Dutch, French)
  • Press release regarding COVID-19 (Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian)
  • Recommendations on the protection of human rights of vulnerable categories of citizens (Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian)
  • Recommendations for Action By Those Charged With Increased Risk of Domestic Violence Due to Isolation Measures to Combat The Covid-19 Pandemic (Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian)
  • Recommendations regarding the publication of all decisions of the competent authorities during an emergency (Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian)
  • Press release on reviewing the practice of crisis staff regarding the presence of journalists and media workers at press conferences (Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian)
  • Recommendation regarding the rights of children to education and protection from violence and neglect (Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian)
  • Press Release regarding the situation with the spread of COVID-19 (Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian)
  • Ombudsman’s position on the announcement of a coronavirus emergency (Bulgarian)
  • Ombudsman’s opinion to the Legal Commission (Bulgarian)
  • Recommendation to the Minister of Health (Bulgarian)
  • Recommendation on access of citizens to mobile and fixed services during the state of emergency (Bulgarian)
  • Recommendation to Credit Companies for more flexibility under the state of emergency (Bulgarian)
  • Ombudsman’s letter to the Minister of Education (Bulgarian)
  • Recommendation to Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (Bulgarian)
  • Recommendation to CEO of the heating utility company on citizens’ needs during the pandemic (Bulgarian)
  • Ombudsman’s opinion to the Ministry of Justice on the draft amendment to the Domestic Violence Protection Act (Bulgarian)
  • Open Letter to Minister of Interior on amendments to the Electronic Communications Act (WEU) (Bulgarian)
  • Recommendation to the Minister of Economy to provide more accessible and clear information on measures during the pandemic (Bulgarian)
  • Recommendation to the Minister of Education and Science to stop placement of children in boarding schools (Bulgarian)
  • Recommendation to the Minister of Health on visits to parks for children with disabilities above 12 years old (Bulgarian)
  • Statement from the Ombudsman requesting more accessible and clear information on measures during the pandemic (Bulgarian)
  • Statement from the Ombudsman requesting a longer term for discussing the regulations on the prices of heating and electricity (Bulgarian)
  • Recommendation to abolish the examinations of the National External Assessment for IV grade and X grade in connection with the state of emergency and the danger of the spread of COVID -19 (Bulgarian)
  • Recommendation to the President of the Association of District Heating Companies to not leave citizens without hot water during a pandemic (Bulgarian)
  • Article on the COVID-19 pandemic (Croatian, English)
  • Article on the amendments to the Electronic Communications Act (Croatian, English)
  • Article on the prevention measures within the prison system (Croatian, English)
  • Article on the fundamental value of equality during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Croatian, English)
  • Article “No entry without a mask – does this business practice constitute discrimination?” (Croatian, English)
  • Article on protecting citizens in uncertain housing situation (Croatian, English)
  • Article on homeless people during the coronavirus epidemic (Croatian, English)
  • Article on the impact of COVID-19 on Roma Population (Croatian, English)
  • Article on the right to safe and drinkable water during the COVID-19 pandemic (Croatian, English)
  • Article on the importance of upholding human rights during times of emergency (Croatian, English)
  • Article on how to protect the rights of older people during the pandemic (Croatian, English)
  • Article on OHCHR’s guidelines on human rights in the context of the pandemic (Croatian, English)
  • Article on the investigations on possible violation of rights of older people in a retirement home (English)
  • Article on providing support to persons under international protection (Croatian)
  • Article on stigmatization possibly leading to violations of rights, discrimination and impairment of efforts in containing the epidemic (Croatian, English)
  • Statement on the measures for persons deprived of their liberty in the context of coronavirus (Greek)
  • Awareness campaign: COVID-19 & Human Rights (English and Greek)
  • Note on access to information on the COVID-19 pandemic for Persons with Disabilities and other vulnerable groups (Greek)
  • Press release on the visit to the Kokkinotrimithia Temporary Migrants Reception and Accommodation Center to monitor fundamental rights of persons deprived of their liberty during the COVID-19 pandemic (Greek)
  • Press release on issues concerning children (Czech)
  • Press re;ease on issues concerning young people (Czech)
  • Statement expressing solidarity to health workers during the pandemic (Czech)
  • Opinion on childbirth and restrictions on access to medical facilities (Czech)
  • Recommendation on the rights of older people residing in unofficial retirement facilities (Czech)
  • Actions undertaken by the Deputy Ombudsman to support families divided by the pandemic (Czech)
  • Press release on monitoring the situation in prisons during the epidemic (Czech)
  • Request to Minister of Labor and Social Affairs and Minister of Health for support of vulnerable families, people with disabilities and their carers during the pandemic (Czech)
  • Press release on the presence of parents during the hospitalization of children during the pandemic (Czech)
  • Request to the Minster of Education to allow children with disabilities access to education under the same conditions as others (Czech)
  • Press release on the prohibition of rent increases during the pandemic (Czech)
  • The Institute’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic (English)
  • Human rights considerations in the fight against COVID-19 (Danish)
  • Policy brief on COVID-19 and human rights law (English)
  • Article on Integrating business and human rights into state responses to COVID-19 (English)
  • Statement on the protection of health rights of minorities (Danish)
  • Statement on the risk of totalitarianism following the introduction of restrictions in the context of the pandemic (Danish)
  • Debate: Advanced monitoring of individuals can become normal (Danish)
  • Debate: The World Health Organisation and the politics of health internationalism (English)
  • Human Rights and Covid-19: ‘Build Back Better’ (English)
  • Article  “Corona app: Functional or custodial?” (Dutch)
  • Advice on local government council meetings in an emergency situation (Estonian)
  • Observations to the Auxiliary Police Act and Amendments to Other Acts – Measures Related to the Spread of COVID-19 (Estonian)
  • Frequently Asked Questions about health management during an emergency (Estonian)
  • Frequently Asked Questions on Provision of health care during an emergency (Estonian)
  • Statement on the worker’s state of health (Estonian)
  • Statement on the restrictions of religious freedom in an emergency (Estonian)
  • Information about restrictions on freedom of assembly (Estonian)
  • Chancellor of Justice’s website on the COVID-19 crisis (Estonian)
  • Finnish Human Rights Centre’s webpages on COVID-19 (English, Finnish, Swedish)
  • Dedicated page on fundamental and human rights and their possible limitations (Finnish, Swedish)
  • Parliamentary Library’s Legal Information Package (Finnish)
  • Dedicated page on the rights of elderly and persons with disabilities (English, Finnish, Swedish)
  • Dedicated page with information form international and regional organisations (English, Finnish, Swedish)
  • Parliamentary Ombudsman’s webpages with updates on COVID-19 (English, Finnish, Swedish)
  • Observations to the Prime Minister on human rights concerns associated with the emergency measures (French)
  • Article on the need to safeguard fundamental rights during the crisis (French)
  • Observatory of the state of sanitary emergency and containment (French)
  • Opinion on the State of health emergency and rule of law (French)
  • Opinion on the digital tracking of people (French)
  • Opinion on the restoration of normal functioning of justice (French)
  • Opinion on the Extension of the state of health emergency and freedoms (French)
  • Opinion on the equal opportunities and the right to education during the Covid-19 pandemic (French)
  • Frequently Asked Questions about human rights standards during a pandemic (English)
  • Special Statement of the Public Defender of Georgia on the State of Emergency (English)
  • Statement on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Light of the outbreak of COVID-19 (English)
  • Information on Rights and Responsibilities of Employees and Employers during the pandemic (English)
  • Statement on Measures to be Taken to Provide Certain Medical Services and Shelter for Homeless Persons (English)
  • Statement against media xenophobic narratives related to the origin of Covid-19 (English)
  • Statement on Issues relating to Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (English)
  • Opinion on Situation at Checkpoints (English)
  • Statement to Authorities relating to Protection of Right to Life (English)
  • Public Defender to Study Situation in Quarantine Spaces (English)
  • Frequently asked questions on fines for violating the isolation and/or quarantine rules during the state of emergency (English)
  • Statement on Anti-Crisis Economic Plan and Needs of Persons with Disabilities (English)
  • Visits of Public Defender and Special Preventive Group to Penitentiary Establishments (English)
  • Online Meeting between Public Defender and Head of State Care and Trafficking Agency (English)
  • Note on the provision of Legal Counseling to Stateless Persons, Asylum Seekers and Persons with International Protection (Arabic, English, Russian, Turkish)
  • Note on the provision of financial assistance due to the pandemic (Arabic, English, Russian, Turkish)
  • Press release on how human rights must guide political action (German)
  • Opinion on the impact of the CoVID-19 pandemic on human rights (German, English)
  • Press release on the need for equal health care and additional appropriate housing for homeless people during the CoVID-19 pandemic (German, English)
  • Press release on the continued full applicability of children’s rights during the CoVID-19 pandemic (German)
  • Press release on protecting the rights of older persons effectively during the CoVID-19 pandemic (German)
  • Opinion on protecting the rights of older persons effectively during the CoVID-19 pandemic (German)
  • Press release on ensuring health care for persons with disabilities during the CoVID-19 pandemic (German)
  • Opinion on ensuring health care for persons with disabilities during the CoVID-19 pandemic (German)
  • Press release on implementing  recommendations of the EU Commission for the reception and care of refugees in times of the corona pandemic (German)
  • Press release on children’s rights during the COVID-19 pandemic (German)
  • Human rights and equality considerations in responding to the coronavirus pandemic (English)
  • Webpage: Our response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (English)
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for employers (English)
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for employers: Reasonable adjustments for employees (English)
  • Coronavirus pandemic: equality and human rights considerations in access to food and essentials (English)
  • Preventing the health crisis from becoming a justice crisis (English)
  • Coronavirus pandemic: a letter to the British Medical Association (English)
  • Employers face raft of disability discrimination claims amid Covid-19 crisis (English)
  • Letter to the Prime Minister calling for BSL interpretation at daily briefings (English)
  • Equality body calls on retailers to do more for disabled customers during corona crisis (English)
  • Support and care for older people during the coronavirus pandemic (English)
  • Plenary Session on Human rights issues during the pandemic (Greek)
  • Message on the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic (Hungarian, English)
  • Information notice on the issues affecting the Roma population in the context of the coronavirus pandemic (Hungarian, English)
  • Joint statement on the issues related to the vulnerable groups (English)
  • Recommendation on the rights of people with autism during health crisis (Hungarian)
  • Recommendation expressing solidarity for health workers in times of emergency (Hungarian)
  • Article on the launch of Ex-Officio Inquiry Into Covid-19 Infection In Nursing Homes (Hungarian)
  • Letter to the Prime Minister in recognition of the pandemic (English)
  • Statement on COVID-19 Oversight in Respect of Human Rights and Equality (English)
  • Statement to Minister for Equality, Immigration, and Integration In Respect of Direct Provision (English)
  • People’s Advocate reminds all competent bodies that no protective measures should never result in inhuman and degrading treatment of persons deprived of their liberty (Albanian)
  • Statement of the People’s Advocate regarding domestic violence during COVID-19 pandemic (Albanian)

 

 

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence

  • Letter from the Ombudsman to the Cabinet of Ministers on COVID-19 restriction measures in closed institutions (Latvian)
  • The Ombudsman calls on the Riga City Council not to discriminate between doctors in the discounts in public transport in municipality in Riga (Latvian)
  • Article on state of emergency measures and human rights (Latvian)
  • Frequently Asked Questions on how does the emergency affect childcare and the child’s meeting with non-cohabiting parents (Latvian)
  • Article on how not to fall victim to human trafficking or fraud during a coronavirus pandemic (Latvian)
  • Statement on the protection of human rights during an emergency (English, Lithuanian)
  • The Parliamentary Ombudsman calls for the protection of human rights in social care institutions to be guaranteed (English, Lithuanian)
  • Article on monitoring of social care homes through social media (English)
  • Online workshop for social care workers on the means to ensure the rights and safety of residents and employees of social care institutions during the Covid-19 pandemic (English)
  • Open letter from the President of the CCDH to the Prime Minister on human rights in state of crisis (French)
  • Article on human rights implication on the creation of apps to map the COVID-19 (French)
  • Press release calling for solidarity, cooperation and civic responsibility to to overcome the state of crisis caused by the spread of the COVID – 19 virus (English, Romanian)
  • Opinion on the amendments to Law on the state of emergency (English, Romanian)
  • Call to the authorities to take measures aimed at people with disabilities in the prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic (Romanian)
  • People’s advocates reiterate the importance of access to information for the population and the media during the COVID-19 pandemic (English, Romanian)
  • Statement on The Application of Alternative Measures To Detention During The Epidemiological Crisis (Romanian)
  • Statement on Provision of Information On The Epidemiological Status, and The Protective Measures Of Covid-19 In A Language Accessible To People With Sensory Disabilities (English, Romanian)
  • Statement on the application of Measures To Release Certain Categories Of Detainees, Including Minors, to reduce the number of people in detention (English, Romanian)
  • Amicus Curiae for the Constitutional Court on inaccurate formulation of Law no.54 on the state of emergency that could lead to the unjustified restriction of human rights (Romanian)
  • Recommendation to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection on the modification of some provisions of art. 80 of the labour code regarding the indemnity for the period of technical unemployment (English, Romanian)
  • Visits to Penitentiaries no. 8 and no. 12 from Bender municipality to documente the measures taken by the Penitentiary Administration for the prevention of infection of convicts and employees of institutions with COVID-19 (Romanian)
  • Statement to the Director of the Criminal Sanctions Administration requesting information on health protection measures for persons deprived of their liberty (Montenegrin)
  • Press release on monitoring the situation of vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic (Montenegrin)
  • Statement condemning the publication of personal data of infected citizens (Montenegrin)
  • Note responding to questions concerning coronavirus and human rights (Dutch)
  • Note responding to questions concerning racism in times of coronavirus (Dutch)
  • Statement on vulnerable groups and human rights perspective in development of digital response to COVID crisis (Dutch)
  • Statement on the need of protection against domestic violence to be part of the corona approach (Dutch)
  • Note responding to questions concerning coronavirus and human rights (Dutch)
  • Easily Accessible hotline for persons with disabilities (Dutch)
  • Work Plan on the functioning of the Ombudsman Office during the pandemic (Macedonian)
  • Recommendation To The Government For The Protection Of Vulnerable Categories In Conditions Of Pandemia 19 (Macedonian)
  • Recommendations to the Government For The Protection Of Persons Deprived of Liberty (Macedonian)
  • Recommendation to comply with emergency measures to protect the  rights of the children during the state of emergency (Macedonian)
  • Statement on COVID-19 and Human Rights (English)
  • Recommendation to Department of Health and NI Executive on access to termination of pregnancy healthcare services (English)
  • Briefing on the Coronavirus Act 2020 (English)
  • Joint Statement from Chief Commissioner and Commissioner for Older People on COVID-19 and older persons (English)
  • Input to the competent parliamentary committee on the draft ‘Corona Act’ (Norwegian)
  • Insight on the Corona Act (Norwegian)
  • Information regarding the Norwegian Government response to the COVID-19 pandemic (English)
  • Letter on the protection of human rights during the covid-19 pandemic to Ministry of Health, Directorate of Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Norwegian)
  • Letter to the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health on safeguarding the right to privacy in connection with infection tracking app (Norwegian)
  • Letter to the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Directorate of Health regarding the ban on visits and social isolation for long-term patients in hospitals and care residences (Norwegian)
  • Letter to the Ministry of Justice and Emergency Management and the Directorate of Prison Services on complying with inmates’ human rights through measures to combat the COVID-19 spread (Norwegian)
  • Dedicated webpage: Coronavirus and epidemic in Poland (Polish)
  • Statement on the State of Emergency (Portuguese)
  • Recommendation to the Minister of Justice on prisons (Portuguese)
  • Clarifications regarding the emergency state and regional quarantines (Portuguese)
  • Recommendation to the Government on extraordinary support for self-employed workers (Portuguese)
  • Recommendation to the Government on restrictions during childbirth (Portuguese)
  • Recommendation to the Government on exceptional support measures for lawyers and solicitors (Portuguese)
  • Statement on the crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus and the impact on human rights (Romanian)
  • Article on High Commissioner’s visit to temporary detention centre to examine hygienic condition related to spread of COVID-19 (English)
  • Article on collaboration of Russian and Armenian Ombudsmen for the reunification of an Armenian family (English)
  • Article on the activities of the High Commissioner to counteract the spread of coronavirus and protect human rights during the pandemic (English)
  • Interview of the High Commissioner for Russia-24 TV Channel Following the Visit to Crisis Center for Women (English)
  • Statement: Human rights in times of crisis (English)
  • Briefing on the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 (English)
  • Letter to Cabinet Secretary for Justice on rights of people in detention during COVID-19 outbreak (English)
  • Recommendations to Chief Medical Officer to consider reference to human rights (English)
  • Joint Letter to MSP Ruth Maguire to Call for Inquiry on disproportionate impacts of Covid-19 on certain groups (English)
  • Statement welcoming Government measures to reduce COVID-19 risks in prisons through early release of those approaching end of sentences (English)
  • COVID-19 Briefing: evidence from experience (English)
  • Article on Ombudsman’s visit to renovated Reception Center in Subotica (Serbian)
  • Article on NPM’s special hotline (Serbian)
  • Statement on the situation of Persons with disabilities and Roma population during the COVID-19 pandemic (Serbian)
  • Opinion on the rights of persons’ in court proceedings who violated self-quarantined measures (Serbian)
  • Letter to Local Self-Government Units on Providing Basic Living Conditions to Roma Residents (Serbian)
  • Recommendation to the Prime Minister to amend the Decree on measures during the state of emergency for victims of violence (Serbian)
  • Statement with information on Coronavirus and human rights (Slovak)
  • Statement: Let us not allow the virus to take away our humanity (Slovak)
  • Statement on supporting the work of civil society in the time of the virus outbreak (Slovak)
  • Statement on impact of COVID-19 on women (Slovak)
  • Statement on domestic violence at the time of COVID-19 (Slovak)
  • Statement on limitation of access to abortion services during the spread of COVID-19 (Slovak)
  • Dedicated webpage with Ombudsman’s activities on COVID-19 (Slovenian)
  • Statement on the COVID-19 pandemic (Spanish)
  • Ombudsmen submission on the complaints received from individuals related to COVID-19 to respective state authorities (Spanish)
  • Recommendations to the CCAA nursing homes and Autonomous Communities to improve the health care of residents in senior centers (Spanish)
  • Press Release on Covid-19 (Turkish)
  • The Ombudsman supports the statement of the UN Secretary-General on combating domestic violence in quarantine (Ukranian)
  • Clarification on possible introduction of curfew to prevent the spread of coronavirus in some regions (Ukranian)

How other organisations are responding

Photo credits: Pexels/Gustavo Fring; Flickr/ Peterob