Europe’s rights body fears virus measures that hurt democracy

Europe’s human rights watchdog warns that democratic rights and personal freedoms have ended during the coronovirus epidemic

In a 148-page report lamenting the state of “democracy in crisis”, the Council of Europe said that in many countries where security measures for the judiciary and other institutions were already under threat, it was further erased in 2020.

“The clear and worrying degree of democratic backsliding was highlighted,” said Council Secretary-General Marija Pajinckovich Buric. “The danger is that our democratic culture will not fully recover.”

France, based in Strasbourg, the Council of Europe was created after World War II to protect human and democratic rights and its membership was expanded to include Russia and several former communist states. It is not an institution of the European Union.

The countries cited for undemocratic practices were Russia, Turkey, Moldova, Hungary and Azerbaijan. The practices included intimidation and arbitrary detention of critics of the government, journalists and members of civil society, as well as changes in the judiciary that were seen as threats to its independence.

Barrick said violence against women had also worsened because of the lockdown, while migrants and other vulnerable groups were facing more abusive behavior at the hands of authorities.

“The sad reality is that the rise in domestic abuse rates was anticipated from the beginning of the crisis. The term of imprisonment means that victims often get stuck with their addicts, ”she said by videoconferencing in a meeting in Athens that coincided with the release of the report. —— Lorna Cook reported from Brussels.


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