A fully functioning justice system is critical during emergencies like COVID-19 (UN Statement)

The ICJ today addressed the UN Human Rights Council in the Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on COVID-19 responses and human rights.

The statement reads as follows:

“Madam President,

As the Special Rapporteur has underscored, the role of a fully functioning justice system is especially critical during times of public emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, we would like to draw your attention to the Siracusa Principles.

Measures undertaken by States which adversely impact human rights must be subjected to judicial control, and those who may suffer violations must be guaranteed continuous access to justice through independent courts.

In light of this, the ICJ has underscored that in the event where necessary measures to prevent COVID-19 should cause impediments or delays in the administration of justice, the following kinds of cases should be prioritized: violations of human rights, particularly those involving irreparable harm; protective measures for rights of vulnerable persons and judicial guarantees for persons deprived of their liberty.

Lawyers have been required to seek government permits to operate during the pandemic. Lawyers must not be required to obtain any additional permits to operate other than their ordinary credential to practice law.

Recognition of lawyers as essential service providers should extend to all legal workers including paralegals.

The ICJ would ask the Special Rapporteur whether, there are measures that could be undertaken to reduce case-loads such as, decriminalization of certain offences that can be addressed by means other the criminal law?

I thank you.”



Massimo Frigo, ICJ UN Representative, e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org, t: +41797499949

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