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COVID-19 response in the Eastern Partnership region: emergency measures and civic freedoms

Amid the ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus COVID-19, governments have been rapidly introducing new emergency measures. While these measures aim to save lives, they also have a major impact on civil society space and fundamental freedoms. As part of its CSO Meter initiative, ECNL and its partners in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) region have been following how the emergency measures taken by governments affect human rights and civic freedoms and how CSOs have responded. Our Briefer summarizes measures taken up to April 5, 2020.

Some of the main findings:

  • Armenia, Georgia and Moldova have sent notifications for derogations from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Armenia has also sent a notification for derogation from ICCPR. The main rights listed in the notifications include freedom of association and assembly and freedom of movement. Other rights affected are the right to liberty and security, protection of property and the right to education.
  • Most countries have limited public assemblies but in Belarus this has only been a recommendation from the Ministry of Health.
  • Countries have introduced measures to limit the access to and spread of information (particularly “false”). For example, in Armenia there is a need to cite official sources when discussing the coronavirus cases, while in Azerbaijan users and owners of Internet resources must not allow the publication of false information. There have also been limitations on the right to privacy. In Armenia, authorities are allowed to collect information on the location and calls of the users of electronic communication services.
  • Most countries have introduced certain limitation on freedom of movement, including a special SMS permission system in Azerbaijan and the requirement to stay indoors during the night in Georgia. Severe sanctions have been also introduced for violations of the imposed measures.

At the same time, civil society has been at the forefront in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic through various initiatives, including statements, petitions, free legal advice, fundraising, volunteering and a lot more.

For more info, download the Briefer (in pdf) at the CSO Meter website here or see below:

cso meter covid briefer