3 April 2020 This is the key message of the Standing Committee of the Conference of International NGOs at the Council of Europe at this time of rampant pandemic. The statement starts with the sentence: “In the context of the fight against the pandemic, the Standing Committee is expressing its strong commitment to the construction of a diverse and open society, based on human rights, the rule of law and meaningful democratic participation.”
And it continues: “NGOs fulfil a fundamental role in checking the emergency measures for necessity and proportionality, because any intervention by the State in individual rights and freedoms must be proportional, contextualized and limited in time.. Strong guarantees of the rule of law are necessary to increase citizen trust in public life. The demands and expectations of citizens relating to the exercise of public ethics are legitimate and oblige decision makers to guarantee citizen’s right to information, according to standards established by the Council of Europe. In light of the experience of the current emergency context, we call on all member States to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents (CETS n°205).”
INGO Dialogues wishes to support the Standing Committee’s Statement and points out that the values on which emergencies are handled are likely to be those that will be the fabric of societies in other periods.