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European Union Agency for fundmental Human Lights - Coronavirus pandemic in the EU - Fundamental Rights Implications - Bulletin 1


European Union Agency for fundmental Human Lights からCoronavirus pandemic in the EU - Fundamental Rights Implications - Bulletin 1が公開されています。


European Union Agency for fundmental Human Lights

2020.04.13 Coronavirus pandemic in the EU - Fundamental Rights Implications - Bulletin 1

・[PDF] Coronavirus pandemic in the EU - Fundamental Rights Implications - Bulletin 1


The outbreak of COVID-19 affects people’s daily life in the 27 EU Member States. As the number of infected people in the EU territory began to mount rapidly in February and March, governments put in place a raft of measures – often introduced in a period of only a few days – in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. Many of these measures reflect how, in exceptional emergency situations, the urgent need to save lives justifies restrictions on other rights, such as the freedom of movement and of assembly. This report outlines some of the measures EU Member States have put in place to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. It covers the period 1 February – 20 March 2020.


・2020.04.08 Press Lerease Protect human rights and public health in fighting COVID-19




駒澤綜合法律事務所 - IT Law

・2020.04.13 コロナウイルス(Covid-19)とGDPR (12) 宮下先生からの情報


Key Findings

The outbreak of COVID-19 affects people’s daily life in the 27 EU Member States. As the number of infected people in the EU territory began to mount rapidly in February and March, governments put in place a raft of measures – often introduced in a period of only a few days – in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. Many of these measures reflect how, in exceptional emergency situations, the urgent need to save lives – itself a core fundamental rights obligation – justifies restrictions on other rights, such as the freedom of movement and of assembly.

International human rights law allows for the limitation of certain rights, especially when addressing a major health crisis. Moreover, states can also introduce emergency laws when exceptional circumstances arise. These laws can derogate from some human rights but they need to be in force for a limited time and in a supervised manner. States need to notify formally the derogation, which needs to be prescribed by law, proportionate and necessary. Once the exceptional circumstances are over, governments must lift the emergency measures.

This report outlines some of the measures EU Member States have put in place to protect public health during the Coronavirus pandemic. It highlights how they may affect fundamental rights; where specific Articles are mentioned in the report, these refer to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. It covers the period 1 February – 20 March 2020 and focuses on four interrelated issues:

  • measures to contain COVID-19 and mitigate its impact in the areas of social life, education, work, and freedom of movement, as well as asylum and migration;
  • the impact of the virus and efforts to limit its spread on particular groups in society;
  • incidents of xenophobic and racist discrimination, including hate crime;
  • the spread of disinformation concerning the outbreak and the implications of related containment measures on data protection and privacy.

The combination of the most widespread restrictions on daily life experienced in peacetime in modern Europe impact on all of us. They affect in particular certain, often already vulnerable, groups in society, with profound implications for the enjoyment of fundamental rights in the EU. The following paragraphs outline key findings from FRA’s data collection across the 27 EU Member States, illustrating the impact of the virus and the measures to contain it.

FRA will continue to examine the impact on fundamental rights of the virus and measures to contain it in follow-up reports in the coming months.

Impact on daily life: EU Member States’ measures to address the outbreak

The measures taken to manage the public health crisis and prevent health systems being overwhelmed have put equal treatment in – and equal access to – healthcare, including preventive healthcare, at risk. The right to life (Article 2), the right to health (Article 35) in combination with the prohibition of discrimination (Article 21) call for preventive healthcare and medical treatment to be available to all.

  • Information provided to FRA indicate that in some Member States limited intensive care resources to treat COVID-19 patients risked leading to a de-prioritisation of older patients affected by the virus. Prioritising treatment of patients with COVID-19 may also affect patients with other critical conditions, such as cancer.
  • Reports emerged of COVID-19 related deaths of older people in nursing homes not being reported to the authorities. There are also reports of insufficient preventive measures in these settings where people are at increased risk of infection due to close proximity to others and at increased risk of adverse outcomes due to older age.
  • On the prevention side, evidence collected by FRA shows that vulnerable groups, including people living in institutional settings, people with disabilities, homeless people, Roma and migrants, can be at increased risk of infection. This reflects their limited access to information on protection measures, their housing conditions and socio-economic disadvantages.

All EU Member States introduced physical and social distancing measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, including forms of quarantine. Such measures can affect many fundamental rights, including the rights to liberty and security (Article 6), respect for private and family life (Article 7), freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 10), freedom of expression and information keep together on one line, freedom of assembly and of association (Article 12), freedom of the arts and sciences (Article 13), and freedom of movement and of residence (Article 45). They can also affect the rights of specific groups including children, older persons and persons with disabilities.

  • Most Member States have instituted mandatory social distancing measures for the entire population, such as suspension of mass gatherings, stay-at-home requirements - including quarantine measures, closure of non-essential businesses and public spaces, and physical distancing when outside the house.
  • Some have placed whole provinces, regions or cities under quarantine, or prohibited all movement in the public sphere without a permit.
  • Most Member States have introduced sanctions for those not complying with the newly introduced measures. These typically take the form of fines, but in some cases include the possibility for custodial sentences.

Schools were largely closed down in EU Member States. The impact of switching from regular to home schooling depends on a variety of factors, including the socio-economic background of children’s families. According to the ‘best interests of the child’ principle enshrined in Article 24 of the Charter and the right to education (Article 14), every child has the right to education, which shall be provided without discrimination (Article 21).

  • Almost all governments across the EU closed down education facilities in February and March 2020 to limit the spread of COVID-19. In some Member States, however, selected schools have remained open for the children of essential workers or for those with no other available childcare.
  • To guarantee the continuation of education, Member States encouraged educational institutions to switch to distance learning. However, not all schools or children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, have the computers, other IT tools or internet access necessary to participate in online learning.
  • Around a third of Member States introduced the possibility for some workers to apply for special leave or for an allowance to support them while staying at home to look after their children.

The measures drastically affected the economy across the EU, in effect shutting down many sectors of the economy. The ‘lockdown’ of the population has had an immediate impact on particularly exposed sectors such as catering and tourism, with most other industries also hit hard. This is prompting sharp increases in unemployment. Related measures may impact on workers’ right to information and consultation (Article 27), protection in the event of unjustified dismissal (Article 30), social security and social assistance (Article 34), but also the freedom to choose an occupation and right to engage in work (Article 15), and the freedom to conduct a business (Article 16). At the same time, governments took steps to mitigate the most immediate effects.

  • A large majority of Member State governments have committed to paying a proportion of the wages of employees who have been or are at risk of being made redundant as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Additional financial support in the form of moratoriums on mortgage payments and support for renters further ease immediate financial pressures on people.
  • While self-employed people were not included in some initial economic support packages, many Member States have now introduced measures specifically focused on or including this group.
  • Some Member States introduced financial support for certain societal groups who may be particularly affected by the outbreak, including older people. Others put in place specific additional benefits for people with caring responsibilities, or for people on sick leave or placed into quarantine because of COVID-19.
  • Information collected by FRA show that workers in precarious employment may not be eligible for the income support schemes, which governments implemented following the employment restrictions instigated during the pandemic.
  • Reports also arose of some employers not heeding government requirements to contain the virus, for example those concerning physical distancing, putting workers at risk of infection. A number of Member States relaxed or suspended restrictions on working time, given the additional pressure on certain sectors – such as health and social care, and the production and distribution of food – resulting from the pandemic.

Due to the exceptional circumstances, EU Member States temporarily reintroduced controls at the internal borders. Article 28 of the Schengen Borders Code (Regulation (EU) 2016/399) allows this possibility under strict conditions and for a limited period. EU Member States also introduced restrictions for third-country nationals crossing the EU’s external borders.

The principle of non-refoulement set out in Article 78 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and in Articles 18 and 19 of the Charter requires that nobody be returned to a situation of persecution or serious harm. Under Articles 3 and 4 of the Schengen Borders Code, border control authorities must respect the rights of refugees and international protection obligations. The suspension of removal operations has left a significant number of migrants in an irregular situation detained in pre-removal facilities. When there is no reasonable prospect for removal, under Article 15 (4) of the Return Directive, detention ceases to be justified and the person concerned must be released immediately. Especially in the context of the current pandemic, measures to ensure that migrants are housed in appropriate accommodation should accompany their release from detention.

  • The vast majority of countries that are part of the Schengen area have introduced restrictions at their internal borders, for example introducing requirements to undergo health checks, self-isolation after entry and permitting entry to only certain non-nationals.
  • Some Member States banned asylum applicants from entering their territory.
  • With airlines cancelling international flights, several EU Member States also suspended operations to remove third-country nationals, including for people detained in preremoval facilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also affected the judiciary. Some of the measures taken substantially affect the work of courts. It is important to avoid ensuing impacts on the right to access justice, in particular the right to an effective remedy and a fair trial (Article 47).

  • Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 outbreak, some hearings are postponed, while others are held via videolink. In some cases, the public is excluded due to distancing measures.
  • Issues arise surrounding the effective participation of those directly concerned, such as defendants and victims who can only attend remotely. Limitations also emerge in the judicial system’s ability to work remotely using electronic devices for communication, to access files through databases, and in the conduct of proceedings via video conference. This affects in particular those Member States with less developed IT systems in their judiciary.
  • Using video technology on a case-by-case basis can mitigate some effects, and has – to date – been successfully employed for certain vulnerable victims and witnesses in some Member States. However, use of this technology by default risks affecting the minimum standards developed under Articles 47 or 48 of the Charter and Article 6 of the ECHR, to ensure effective participation in proceedings, including one’s right to be present.

Impact on particular groups in society

The virus and the measures Member States introduced to prevent and mitigate the impact of the pandemic affect the rights of everyone but in different ways. Member States adopted special measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in specific settings, for example, in institutional settings, including prisons, residential care settings and refugee camps/reception facilities and shelters where people are more at risk of infection due to the difficulty of applying physical distancing measures, especially in often-overcrowded settings. EU Member States took various measures that acknowledge these asymmetries in vulnerability – including of groups such as older people, people with disabilities, homeless people and Roma communities.

  • Most Member States suspended or restricted visits to people in institutional settings (including in prisons; in residential care settings; and in refugee camps/reception facilities). While preventing the spread of the disease, such measures can also heighten the risk of neglect.
  • Some EU countries stopped semi-freedom regimes for prisoners (where they could work outside the prison during the day and return to the prison at night); others further restricted freedom of movement in refugee centres.
  • In some Member States, crucial day services for the homeless such as services that provide food or medical services for this group have ceased to operate due to the pandemic.

Some Member States tried to provide solutions that address the particular needs of certain social groups:

  • Some of the institutions that suspended family visits allowed more frequent phone or video calls so that people can remain in contact with friends and relatives.
  • Institutions made efforts to introduce measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (provision of sanitiser and face-masks; quarantine and physical distancing measures).
  • Some Member States released certain prisoners early.
  • Some Member States are making efforts to house homeless people, including in special housing units for those who become infected.
  • FRA evidence reflects an increased risk of gender-based violence occurring, with some Member States reporting that more women are calling support hotlines since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Several Member States increased support measures for women and children at risk of such violence.

Discrimination and racist and xenophobic incidents

The Coronavirus pandemic triggered an increase in racist and xenophobic incidents against people of (perceived) Chinese or Asian origin, including verbal insults, harassment, physical aggression and online hate speech. Discrimination and bias-motivated harassment and violence are illegal under Article 21 of the Charter, Council Framework Decision 2008/913/ JHA on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia, and Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin.

  • Alongside incidents of hate crime against people of (perceived) Chinese or Asian origin, cases of hate speech targeting other groups, including Roma and persons with disabilities, were reported in some Member States.
  • People of Chinese or Asian origin also experienced discrimination in accessing goods and services, including access to health services and education.
  • FRA’s research into minorities’ experiences of discrimination consistently shows that victims of discriminatory incidents seldom report their cases to relevant authorities. As such, the racist and xenophobic incidents related to the COVID-19 outbreak are likely to be an undercount of the real situation.
  • Reports emerged from several Member States of politicians and other public figures using derogatory and xenophobic language towards people of Chinese and Asian origin, and against migrants. In other countries, governments took steps to condemn such scapegoating.
  • Evidence collected by FRA shows that xenophobic language is also present in the media and online. However, some civil society organisations used social media for anti-hate speech campaigns.

Disinformation, privacy and data protection

The evidence collected by FRA shows that disinformation – that is verifiably false or misleading information – around the COVID-19 pandemic is widespread. Disinformation undermines democracy affecting political decision-making, and can weaken freedom of expression and information safeguards (Article 11). The European Commission is active in tackling online disinformation and provides useful guidance in this regard.

  • Evidence collected by FRA indicates that disinformation around the Coronavirus pandemic is widespread in almost all Member States. Authorities in the EU Member States moved quickly to warn citizens to be wary of disinformation concerning the COVID-19 outbreak and instead seek reliable sources of information. Many established dedicated government websites set out to proactively provide reliable information.
  • Several Member States recalled that spreading disinformation is illegal and may have legal consequences.
  • Governments, the private sector and civil society organisations implemented selfregulatory actions to combat disinformation, such as teams to flag and respond to it, statements emphasising the principles of quality journalism, and guidance to journalists and social media influencers.
  • To ensure that everyone can access the correct information, many Member States provide this information in multiple languages. However, challenges remain in that this information is accessible to persons with disabilities, those with literacy issues, and hard to reach groups such as those in asylum reception centres.

All EU data protection authorities (DPAs) issued statements and/or opinions linked to the Coronavirus pandemic, providing guidance to public authorities, employers and the media on how to uphold data protection standards in their efforts to combat COVID-19. These statements reaffirm that the rights to health and to the protection of personal data go hand-in-hand. They also underline that any measure which would infringe the rights to private life and data protection (Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter) should be grounded in law, necessary, and proportionate.

  • In the area of employment, advice from DPAs was not always harmonised across the EU. For example, in some Member States DPAs indicated that employers may not collect and process personal data related to either symptoms or infection among employees unless workers have voluntarily provided their personal data and agreed to their processing. Others indicated that employers can request personal information related to symptoms and/or infection, if such collection is proven to be necessary.
  • The evidence collected by FRA indicates that generally the information concerning COVID-19 published in the media does not contain personal data.


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