The ICJ published today a briefing paper outlining measures affecting the court system and access to justice which have been introduced in response to COVID-19 in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
In any emergency or crisis situation, judicial oversight of the exceptional measures taken by the State is essential to the rule of law and the protection of human rights.
As anti-COVID-19 pandemic measures have affected many spheres of functioning of the State and society, they have affected justice systems to the extent that their normal operation was interrupted, suspended or adjusted to the new circumstances.
While such measures may have been seen as necessary to effectively tackle the pandemic, the limited operation of the courts, as well as limitations on access to legal advice, have implications for access to justice and the right to a fair trial.
They also raise questions of the capacity of the judicial system to provide redress for possible violations of human rights related to the pandemic and the consequent emergency measures.
In this regard, States’ obligations under international human rights law, which continue to apply in times of crisis, must be central to their COVID-19 response.
In this briefing paper, the ICJ outlines measures affecting the court system and access to justice which have been introduced in response to COVID-19 in a number of countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and which by their nature touch upon legal obligations of States under international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and for member States of the Council of Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
In particular, in this paper the ICJ considers access to the justice and the court systems in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. It considers the issue of the legislative framework governing the restrictive measures, as well as the problems of access to lawyers and courts in relation to the COVID-19 restrictions.
This briefing paper should be read in conjunction with the ICJ’s general briefing note on COVID-19 and the Courts, which explains relevant international laws and standards in more detail.
CIS-Justice and coronavirus-Advocacy-Analysis brief-ENG-2020 (full briefing paper in PDF)AdvocacyAnalysis briefs