16 June 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised challenging new questions about the extent to which States may restrict human rights during public health emergencies. Some States have chosen to restrict the normal rules governing the processing of requests for information, while others have tried to continue to respond to requests. Those that have introduced restrictions have justified them on the basis of operational challenges around staff working remotely and increased burdens on some departments to respond to health and economic challenges.
On 27 May 2020, the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) released a report analysing the international human rights standards that should guide States when it comes to the right to information, Maintaining Human Rights during Health Emergencies: Brief on Standards Regarding the Right to Information. The Brief also looks at measures States have put in place to alter right to information regimes during the pandemic. In making recommendations based on international standards, the Brief stresses the particular importance of maintaining the right to information during public emergencies and that any restrictions on this right must be strictly required, in accordance with human rights law. The Brief builds on the COVID-19 Tracker, which documents legal changes to right to information regimes around the world. We are continuing to update the Tracker.
The full Brief is available in English at: https://www.law-democracy.org/live/maintaining-the-right-to-information-during-health-emergencies.
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