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COVID-19: Die menschenrechtliche Dimension

Dienstag, 14.04.2020

Interview mit UNESCO Chair Gerd Oberleitner auf der Homepage der REWI-Fakultät - English Abstract below

Die REWI-Fakultät der Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz veröffentlicht derzeit eine Interviewreihe zu rechtswissenschaftlichen Aspekten der COVID-19-Pandemie. Heute ging das Interview mit UNI-ETC-Leiter und UNESCO-Chair Gerd Oberleitner zu den menschenrechtlichen Implikationen des derzeitigen Ausnahmezustandes online, Sie finden es hier.

Interview of Prof. Gerd Oberleitner on Corona from a human rights perspective

UNESCO Chair, Head of the UNI-ETC and Professor of International Law Gerd Oberleitner talked about the limitations of human rights resulting from the measures taken due to the COVID-19 crisis in an interview conducted on 14 April 2020.

Prof. Oberleitner explained that as a result of the lockdown, many human rights have been limited, in particular the liberty of movement. As a result of this limitation, a number of other human rights have also been restricted, inter alia, the right to respect for private and family life (no grandparents visits), the right of assembly, the freedom of occupation (closing of shops), the right to education (discontinuation of schools) as well as the freedom of religion (no worship services) and the artistic freedom (closure of cinemas, theatres, museums).

In his opinion, as important as the protection of health and life is, measures restricting human rights must always be reviewed on their necessity, their legal basis, their reasonableness and proportionality. To stress his point, Prof. Oberleitner highlighted the situation in Hungary, where since the end of March 2020 parliament is practically disempowered. The government is now adopting laws by regulations – for the protection of the citizens against COVID-19, as they say. He also elaborated on the Hungarian course of action against fake news (the expression of such opinion can lead to a five years prison sentence) and what other platforms like YouTube are doing (mainly deleting). Prof. Oberleitner stressed that Corona distinguishes between class, gender and social status and that the crisis exacerbates vulnerabilities and socio-economic inequalities. Staying at home to socially distance and washing hands is only possible when one has a home and access to clean water. This, however, is illusory for estimated 2.2 billion people presently without access to clean water or who cannot socially distance themselves in overcrowded refugee camps (e.g. camp ‘Moria’ on Lesvos).

Whilst most consequences of COVID-19 on human rights are yet to unveil, some of them, however, have already manifested themselves. Prof. Oberleitner invoked that some states have, for example, already made use of the 'derogation in times of emergency' clause under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Finally, in the words of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, Prof. Oberleitner concluded that the current crisis is indeed a "test for our societies." For the full article see: Portal der Rechtswissenschaften (German only)

English Abstract by Christina Seewald.

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