COVID 19 revealed the challenges both at the national and international level, as we’ve faced a great challenge to protect health and also human rights, Sonja Biserko, President of Helsinki Committee for Human Rights office in Serbia said at the webinar organized by Korean Peace NGO HWPL.
The Serbian Government introduced controversial measure. Citizens were put under lockdown. This especially applies to senior citizens, who were almost completely “put under lock and key”.
The protective measures implemented by the government did not prove to be efficient despite being considerably more rigorous. A state of emergency was not declared by the National Assembly as stipulated by the Constitution.
The government centralized the information system. Media was denied to have an access to the deliberate information from the government and health institution. The arrest of journalists and press conferences without presence of journalists occurred. Thus, citizens’ right to have objective and truthful information was violated.
Vulnerable groups couldn’t have access to the same right. Children who don’t have a computer couldn’t attend online class. Women have suffered more from losing jobs and domestic violence.
In Macedonia, the government thought to deal with the virus was the main objective, Not just in Macedonia but all over the Balkans.The majority of people consider the issue related toHuman rights less important during the pandemic, said Karolina Ristova-Asterud, Professor of Faculty of Law, Iustinianus Primus in North Macedonia.
The government’s parliament dissolved itself in anticipation of the parliament elections. Then Covid-19 broke out. Consequently, the country had entered the Covid-19 pandemic without a functioning parliament. National state of emergency declared by the President without parliament. The government overreached to legislate executive orders not in a necessary and proportional manner to handle the “state of emergency.
Executive orders adopted by the Government directly affecting citizens’ human rights and freedoms. Derogations from the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights to the Council of Europe) in regard to: Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) , Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) , Article 2 from Protocol no. 1 to the Convention ( right to education) and Article 2 from Protocol no. 4 (freedom of movement). The derogations were withdrawn on June 29, 2020.
Several non-stop police curfews during major religious/public holidays: for Easter holidays in April, from Friday 4 pm to Tuesday 5 am (85 hours in home custody).
Deprivation of individual liberty by quarantine and self-isolation 14+14 days for citizens returning from abroad (together with taking away their passports while enduring the measure).
Violations of the voting rights of citizens in isolation. Indirect and induced violations of human rights by the state of emergency (family violence, worker’s rights violations, prisoner’s rights and of people in state custody, etc.)
COVID-19 is one of the many pandemics which have refugees, migrants and people on the move have faced not only in the Balkan region. Some of the other pandemics are structural racisms and fascism and even denying the existence of people who are searching for safety, basic human rights and freedoms (Struggle for life, dignity and safety), said Emina Buzinkic, political activist, Transbalkan Solidarity and PhD student at the University of Minnesota, USA.
People in these camps, and even more so outside of them are faced with many difficulties, such as being packed, overcrowded and poor sanitation, soap and water out of sight and greatly with a lack of nutrient food.
This was then heightened during the COVID-10 pandemic where volunteers and NGO’s where denied access the camps and where masks and disinfectant were not available and where due to the pandemic are confident to the camps.
Due to a lack of medical care (Which most citizens of a nation take for granted) there were outbreaks of the Corona Virus, but no one was able to know the numbers are these people on the move were not tested.
Also during the COVID-19 pandemic asylum was denied, using COVID-19 as an excuse. COVID-19 is one of the pandemics which people on the move, refugees and migrants are facing. Lack of our solidarity is also a pandemic which we have to strongly fight against.