Beyond the State of Alarm: COVID-19 in Spain

The confinements imposed by the Spanish Government in response to the pandemic are among the most intense in comparative terms since they contain a prohibition of going out into the street with only limited exceptions. Given their intensity, especially the strong limits imposed on the freedom of movement, the restrictions are rather suspensions than mere restrictions of fundamental rights and as such go beyond their legal basis of the state of alarm.

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Japan’s Soft State of Emergency: Social Pressure Instead of Legal Penalty

People have been perplexed by the slow and soft approach of the Japanese government in their attempt to bring COVID-19 under control. The first case of COVID-19 in Japan was confirmed on 16 January 2020. On 30 January, the Japanese government set up the COVID-19 Countermeasures Headquarters. It published emergency countermeasures against COVID-19 on 13 February and presented Basic Policies for Coronavirus Disease Control on 25 February. However, none of these measures have introduced drastic measures such as border controls and/or curfews.

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Excessive Law Enforcement in Kenya

Kenya’s President is yet to declare a state of emergency and has opted to implement measures that ensure citizens can continue with their lives. Constitutionally, rights may only be limited by law and only to the extent that is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom.

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Lithuania’s Response to COVID-19: Quarantine Through the Prism of Human Rights and the Rule of Law

The COVID-19 outbreak constitutes an unprecedented challenge in the history of independent Lithuania, which in its 1992 Constitution embedded a broad list of human rights and freedoms. It seems that so far the emergency powers have been used proportionately and in a time-limited manner, albeit some concerns regarding human rights and the rule of law remain. While it is understandable that the pandemic required a quick response, more attention from the Lithuanian decision-makers on fundamental rights and the required balancing would have been welcome.

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Democracy and the Global Emergency – Shared Experiences, Starkly Uneven Impacts

Curating analysis of these developments since early April through the COVID-DEM project, and reading across the 62 published contributions to this outstanding symposium, there are clear commonalities across all democracies affected. Beyond these commonalities, the effect of the COVID-19 response on the democratic system has been – and will be – starkly uneven across democracies worldwide, due to the different democratic ‘starting point’ of each state as the pandemic hit.

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Albania – Some Exceptional Extraordinary Measures

Albania was hit the by Covid-19 pandemic, although it seems not as gravely as some of its neighbours. Starting from 10 March 2020 the Albanian Government adopted several measures aiming to limit the spread of the pandemic in the country. Most of those measures have been continuously reviewed, following the development of the pandemic.

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State of Emergency in Estonia

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic the Estonian Government (Vabariigi Valitsus), without consulting the parliament (Riigikogu), declared by Order Nr. 76 on 12 March 2020 a state of emergency (eriolukord), defining the epidemic as an “emergency situation”. This is the first time in our modern history where a state of emergency has been declared. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs subsequently informed the Council of Europe of the Estonian derogation under Article 15 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

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Nigeria’s Emergency (Legal) Response to COVID-19: A Worthy Sacrifice for Public Health?

Like many other countries across the world, Nigeria has called upon emergency powers to deal with COVID-19 without, however, having declared a state of emergency. The use of emergency powers in Nigeria in the fight against COVID-19 is not only peculiar but problematic for a number of reasons.

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Fight Against Covid-19 in Serbia: Saving the Nation or Securing the Re-Election?

The Covid-19 epidemic outbreak in Serbia coincided with the beginning of the election campaign for both parliamentary and municipal elections. Soon, it became clear that what was at stake in the fight against Covid-19 was not so much saving the nation as securing the majority re-election of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, headed by its populist leader and President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić.

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