Domestic and Care Workers in Europe: An Intersectional Issue
Our new report ‘Domestic and Care Workers in Europe: An Intersectional Issue’ showcases the diverse reality of domestic and care workers in Europe as a gender […]
2020 Highlights: Stronger together despite Covid-19!
The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic marked 2020 with evidence of significant impact, gaps and consequences for equality on the ground. During the year, Equinet’s priority was to support, share […]
What role for Equality Bodies during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
During the last year, the spread of COVID-19 has put all of Europe to a stress test. The measures taken by governments to tackle the crisis […]
Ireland: Government’s Blurred Lines on COVID Emergency Powers Exposed in New Research
New research published by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has found that the Government has persistently blurred the boundary between legal requirements and public […]
Belgium: Unia takes a stand for getting along together, even in times of corona crisis
The corona crisis that is gripping our country has fuelled mutual distrust among citizens. “We notice that there is a strong tendency to look for culprits […]
Equality & Covid-19: Learnings from Equality Bodies
Equality bodies across Europe have moved with some speed and innovation to reorganise and refocus their work in the context of the onset of the Covid-19 […]
COVID-19: a magnifying glass on the vulnerabilities of women in poverty
Women in poverty are one of the groups heavily and negatively affected by the current COVID-19 crisis regarding their economic situation, their wellbeing, their safety, but […]
UK – Great Britain: How coronavirus has affected equality and human rights
The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) latest report, ‘How coronavirus has affected equality and human rights’, brings together a wealth of evidence exposing the impact […]
How COVID-19 is compounding inequalities against older persons
In the aftermath of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic we need to look at how decisions were made, we need to draw lessons, and to ensure that in future crises, rights are equally respected regardless of age.
Read AGE Platform Europe’s take on how older people were affected during Covid and what we can do to tackle ageism in the future.
Let’s talk about sexual and reproductive health and rights: Not fully implemented before COVID-19 & suspended during the pandemic
This blog post outlines the pre-existing limitations in access to sexual and reproductive health and rights across Europe as well as the further violations we are now witnessing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. By looking at how equality bodies are responding, this article shows the unique role that NEBs play in ensuring access to SRHR.
Equality for Roma and Travellers: Time to Deliver
Equality Bodies accord high priority in their work to seeking improvement in the situation and experience of Roma and Travellers. They share a particular concern at the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Roma and Travellers and how inequality and disadvantage have left these communities ill-equipped to protect themselves from the pandemic.
Why Intersectionality is relevant for a fairer Europe
Initially hailed as the ‘great equalizer,’ the COVID-19 pandemic has, in reality, exposed the depth of institutional, structural, and systemic discrimination and inequality in our societies. The question for Europe now is not if discrimination and exclusion exist but rather how intersectionality serves as a tool to create a fairer, socially just, and more inclusive Europe for everyone.
11 Recommendations for a fair and equal Europe: Rebuilding our Societies after Covid-19
Read Equinet’s Recommendations for a fair and equal Europe as we rebuild our societies after Covid-19.
How can Equality Bodies put equality between women and men at the heart of the response to COVID-19 across Europe?
In April 2020, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) published a policy brief, in which it shed light on the crucial issue that can no longer be ignored – the COVID-19 pandemic is reinforcing existing inequalities in our society and the long-term impacts of the health crisis will disproportionately affect women and girls.
The ban on full-face veils and the COVID-19 pandemic
Society has changed enormously in recent months. The world is under the spell of a pandemic. New manners and customs are appearing, such as no physical contact with others, new ways of greeting each other, social distancing and wearing face masks or alternatives is becoming the norm in public spaces. When it comes to this issue, the WHO is clear: wearing a medical mask can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including COVID-19. From a human rights perspective, the latter trend is particularly interesting, especially if we take into account the fact that in some European countries wearing full-face veils in public spaces is prohibited by law and can lead to sanctions (i.e. fines, prison, administrative fines).
The other pandemic: Systemic racism and its consequences
The events of the last few days, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and following the death of George Floyd, have prompted an amplification of the racial justice movement in the United States that is resonating everywhere in the world, including in Europe. This blogpost aims to give some insight into this movement from a systemic racism point of view, highlighting how this is far from an isolated incident, but a part of a whole system of oppression that needs dismantling.
Persons with disabilities: locked up in institutions, forgotten by governments
I, as the communications coordinator for the European Disability Forum, have been following the COVID-19 impact since beginning of March. It has not been encouraging. Seeing how governments systematically forgot about persons with disabilities, how little support was given and how much pain and problems that created left me very discouraged. Persons with disabilities have been discriminated, isolated, forgotten and subject to multiple and severe human rights violations since the beginning of this crisis.
COVID-19 impact on equality: Equinet launches new online database
Equinet’s new interactive tool gives some insight into how National Equality Bodies (NEBs) are responding to the crisis, as well as the current trends which are appearing in its impact on equality across the region.
COVID-19: What is the specific impact on LGBTI people in Europe?
All of this is hard. We are living unprecedented times, but global response to the crisis should address its potential impact on marginalised groups, including LGBTI people, and their access to healthcare and safety at home, as well as to watch out for discriminatory practices and measures.
Equinet discussing the equality impacts of COVID-19 with European Commissioners
Equinet was contacted by the Commission owing to the unique expertise and insight equality bodies offer on the equality and non-discrimination issues raised by COVID-19.
When staying home is dangerous: fighting the rise of domestic violence in Europe
Week after week, COVID-19 reveals uncomfortable realities about the unequal societies we live in. All over the world, we have been urged to stay home, by authorities and through the #stayathome campaign. But one of the most blatant truths that we must face is that, for many women and children, home is the most dangerous place to stay.
COVID-19: National Equality Bodies report impacts on equality and share their responses to the coronavirus pandemic
As the COVID-19 situation develops, it is vital that the core values of equality and non-discrimination continue to be protected and promoted for all. In this blog post, a brief snapshot will be given of some of the main trends of discrimination and inequality related to the COVID-19 crisis that NEBs are seeing in their national work and some of the ways that they are addressing these issues.
Solidarity must prevail – Stigmatisation and discrimination of health workers has no place in our society
A new and scary discrimination trend seems to be arising in Europe – and worldwide – fuelled by fear of contracting COVID-19 against those that are in the frontline of action. The daily lives of nurses, doctors and health care workers is increasingly being affected by discriminatory attitudes and harassment.
No crisis can undermine the fundamental value of equality
I am writing this post as Chair of the Executive Board of Equinet, but also as Deputy Ombudswoman of Croatia, and as a woman and a mother, in these challenging times of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
|Country||National Equality Body||Type||Grounds||Complaints, requests for info and ex officio procedures|
|Austria||Ombuds for Equal Treatment||Statement||Planning to put some information on their website, addressing potential victims of discrimination and potential perpetrators of discrimination (companies).|
|Austria||Ombuds for Equal Treatment||Action||Ombuds has introduced a new blog - The "Gleichbehandlungs Blog" (equal treatment blog). Blog posts so far include "Equal treatment: a fundamental value of our system of laws" and a post on "labour evaluation in crisis".|
|Austria||Ombuds for Equal Treatment||Complaints||care responsibilities||A father submitted a complaint that he has to use his holidays because of his childcare obligations, while his colleagues who don't have children don't have to use their respective holidays.|
|Belgium||Institute for Equality between Women and Men||Statement||We had one communication explaining that the Centers for Care after Sexual Harassment will remain open during the lockdown.|
|Belgium||Unia||Statement||Issued a joint communication with Myria & Poverty Service (published on Unia website 20/3.|
|Belgium||Unia||Statement||multiple discrimination, age, disability||Unia issued a communication on its website warning the authorities that deciding to treat a patient can never be made on the basis of their age or disability.|
|Belgium||Unia||Action||disability||Unia sent some communications to public authorities: to Prime minister to stress that there was not (enough) translation of the official communication for deaf people (e.g. using sign languages).|
|Belgium||Unia||Action||race or ethnic origin||Unia sent a communication to the Walloon mayor on the situation of Travellers (with the Centre de mediation des gens du voyage).|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||Hate speech and messages of hatred against Asians.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||multiple discrimination, nationality, race or ethnic origin||hate speech and messages of hatred against Italians.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||hate speech and messages of hatred against Black persons, rejoicing in their death.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||age||hate speech and messages of hatred against the elderly, suggesting that they should die quickly to improve social security.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||hate crime against a woman of Pakistani origin potentially with the intention of contaminating her with COVID-19. A person approached her and removed her protective mask to talk to her close to her face and tell her 'Fuck Paki'.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||disability||Police stopped and checked a blind person and their companion in the street with reference to them not living under the same roof.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||other status||Hairdressers felt discriminated as due to their job they are in danger but they do not receive compensation if they close their salons given that at that stage they were officially allowed to remain open for business.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||disability||A company adapted for persons with disabilities failed to comply with the required hygiene and protection measures for persons with disabilities.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||Refusal to a person of Asian background to stay in a hotel - We were contacted by a man who was helping a Chinese citizen to book a stay in a Brussels hotel. This Chinese person was doing a tour of Europe. It was a few weeks before the lockdown. The hotel refused to book the room for a Chinese person, as they feared he might be contaminated by the covid-virus. We contacted the man but never got any response after his first email to us so we closed the case.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||health status||A CPAS (public social services centres, providing help for the most disadvantaged citizens) turned away a person wearing a protective mask supposing that they were sick.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||disability||In the absence of sign language interpretation official communications and information was inaccessible to deaf people and people with hearing impairements.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||disability||Stopping home delivery services from a supermarket having a disproportionate effect and isolating persons with disabilities.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||persons deprived of liberty||A mother can no longer visit her son in prison.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||health status||Cancer patients no longer receiving treatment in hospital.|
|Belgium||Unia||Complaints||multiple discrimination, health status, other status||Discrimination and hate speech against health workers.|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Ombudsman of Bosnia & Herzegovina||Statement||other status||The Ombudsmen have addressed the media on several occasions regarding COVID-19 for clarification regarding protection of human rights of citizens in extraordinary circumstances. Statements can be found on their webpage.
Recent statements below:
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Statement||age, socio-economic disadvantage, race or ethnic origin||Ombudswoman issued several public statements regarding COVID-19 situation, including a public statement called 'Coronavirus ? responsibility has no alternative' (available in English on their website, concerns wide human rights topics). It reflected on measures being taken that limit certain rights, emphasized Ombuds' monitoring role and importance of proportionality in applying measures, highlighted importance of clear, regular communication by authorities, and importance of care for older people. Also noted measures affecting labour rights, homeless people and Roma (and residents of rural areas with less access to public services and basic needs), warning that these groups do not have equal opportunities to follow all preventive measures.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Statement||In a different article, we commented on new legislation that would enable location tracking of phones, a measure meant to ensure the compliance of citizens placed in self-isolation.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Statement||socio-economic disadvantage||Another public statement (available in English on their website) included a brief analysis of the practice of some businesses requiring all customers to wear protective masks to access the business. We found that due to the unavailability and high cost of masks, this practice may place some (based on the socio-economic ground) in an unfavourable position. We recommended that, if necessary, different facial protection (like scarves etc.) can be used instead.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Action||socio-economic disadvantage||Monitoring new travel pass system, as inter-city travel is limited. Initial reports said that this would be digital only, which is not accessible to all and as such, had raised many valid concerns. It seems now, however, that there will be various options, so our intervention is not necessary at this point.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Action||age||monitoring an urgent initiative that would allow for pensions to be delivered to retired persons directly to their homes, rather than them having to collect them at banks or post offices, putting them at risk.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Action||other status||monitoring of various fake news related to coronavirus and its potential effect, as well as the necessity to provide information about coronavirus protection in minority languages.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Action||other status||On our Twitter account, we regularly update about current developments and our work. We use this Twitter account to share useful information given by the National Civil Protection Directorate and other relevant bodies to ensure wide dissemination, especially those relevant to vulnerable groups, such as older persons and migrants.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||socio-economic disadvantage||A citizen complained for being denied a public service (post office) because he did not have access to a protective mask. The complainant noted how masks were almost impossible to obtain and their price increased tenfold, thus being harder to obtain for impoverished citizens.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||multiple discrimination, age, disability, health status||To ensure the health of mail carriers, they are, under certain conditions, allowed to leave a note in the mailbox to avoid contact with the recipients. The recipient or a representative can pick up the post in the post office. This practice may have a disproportionately negative effect, limiting the access to postal services for older people, persons with disabilities and persons with health problems as they are strongly recommended to stay home during the crisis. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the post office is only obliged to keep the mail for a limited amount of time, up to 30 days.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||socio-economic disadvantage||Shelters for homeless persons do not always provide sufficient hygiene and protection, putting the users of their services at an increased risk of contagion.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||socio-economic disadvantage||homeless persons are stopped by the police with reference to the limitations in using public space.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||multiple discrimination, race or ethnic origin, socio-economic disadvantage||Multiple Roma settlements have substandard conditions, with no access to drinking water, resulting in higher risks due to the limitations in adhereing to the recommended hygiene measures.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||multiple discrimination, race or ethnic origin, socio-economic disadvantage||The rental property of a Roma family was damaged in the Zagreb earthquake on 22 March 2020. While the authorities arranged for an emergency placement for all citizens unable to return to their home, the Roma family was denied such emergency placement. In the context of the public health situation this also increases health risks for the family.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||multiple discrimination, age, health status, socio-economic disadvantage||Inability to access their pension due to the closure of borders for a person who resides in Bosnia and Herzegovina near the border with Croatia, but has to travel across the border to a bank to pick up their retirement in Croatia every month.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||age||Harassment by a reporter verbally attacking an older person for being outside during the pandemic.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||health status||Concerns about the necessity and validity of keeping records of confidential medical information (sensitive personal data) in the context of COVID-19.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||care responsibilities||A single mother lost her job because the employer did not want to enable working from home.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||other status||A woman was sent home from work in the context of COVID-19, followed by an obligation to take days off, possibly due to her status as a union representative.|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Statement||disability||Recommendation about temporary care and provision of conditions in social care institutions for children and persons with disabilities (April 2nd).|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Statement||disability||Recommendation about providing distance learning for students with disabilities (April 1st).|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Statement||disability||Recommendation about the right to ensure the provision of medical services for persons with disabilities (March 23rd).|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Statement||multiple discrimination, disability, care responsibilities||Recommendation about Work from home for parents of children with disabilities and employed persons with disabilities (March 23rd).|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Statement||Recommendation to employers regarding work from home (March 17th).|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Statement||disability||Recommendation to national and to all county headquarters about providing important coronavirus information for the deaf and hard of hearing (March 17th).|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Statement||other status||Recommendation - teachers at risk, working from home (March 16th).|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Statement||disability||Press Release about action by persons with disabilities, associations and families related to the prevention of the COVID- 19 dissemination (March 14th).|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Action||disability||Shared and made public: EDF release: Dangers and risks for people with disabilities from the spread of COVID-19 (April 1st).|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Action||disability||Shared and made public: UNICEF - COVID-19 Guidelines and Persons with Disabilities and Children with Disabilities.|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Action||Instructions for obtaining passes for teaching assistants and expert communication facilitators|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Action||disability||The competent authorities were requested to report on the accessibility of services for persons with disabilities in their own homes (March 17th).|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Action||disability||Announcement that a number for the deaf and hard of hearing has been activated in cooperation with the Croatian Red Cross and the Croatian Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (March 18th).|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Complaints||disability||Complaints relating to the process of issuing passes.
On March 23th 2020, a Decision on the prohibition of leaving the place of residence and the place of permanent residence was adopted in Croatia. The main reason for adopting such Decision was that it was estimated how in some areas there was a significantly increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 disease. Because of that, in order to reduce the possibility of further spreading of the disease, it was (and still is) prohibited to leave the place of residence and the place of permanent residence without pass. The passes are issued by the local civil protection headquarters upon personal application. Originally, during March the passes were in paper format and the digital e-Passes were introduced from April 1st. From that date leaving the place of residence/permanent residence has only been possible with the e-Passes.
The Office of the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities in Croatia has received a number (about 20) of submissions and inquiries from citizens regarding the manner of issuing passes and cases of refusal of their requests for issuing. The proceedings found that some of the claims had been substantially rejected, for example request made by the family member of person with disability (husband) to travel over the 300 km route to his wife to make purchases in the shop; there were more cases where persons did not determinate either the departure date or the return day, which is why such requests were also reasonably denied. On the other hand, there were a cases of unjustified refusal of the application for the passes due to the fact that the person with disability is employed in a place outside the place of his/her registered place of residence and is not legally required to reside in the place where he/she resides - namely, it is established that the difference between residence and place of residence was not respected in such cases.
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Complaints||disability||Complaints relating to the accessibility of certain public institutions.|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Complaints||disability||Complaints relating to the education of students with disabilities. During the emergency circumstances, the Ombudsman received more inquiries (6) from parents of children with disability regarding the details of the online or television program. Namely, schools and faculties were closed on 16th March, and since then all the lessons have been organized through television and Internet. Inquiries were in the way of facilitating the arrival of assistants, question of equipping assistants with protective equipment (masks and gloves) and on two occasions, concerns were expressed about the volume and speed of the transfer of teaching materials. In all cases, available information was offered and in relation to professional issues it was suggested to contact and find a solution in cooperation with the schools' expert team. We have been reported back (in two cases) that on the basis of communication between the parents and the expert team, a suitable solution was found ensuring appropriate attendance.|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Complaints||disability||Complaints relating to the provision of assistance services to persons with disabilities, including the ignorance and lack of protective equipment for work with persons with disabilities in these special conditions, or the medical transportation of persons with disabilities.|
|Croatia||Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities||Complaints||multiple discrimination, disability, care responsibilities||Complaints relating to the refusal to allow working from home for persons with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities despite the impossibility of getting to work and school.|
|Czech Republic||Public Defender of Rights||Action||nationality||Have opened a desk where complainants can come in person and submit a complaint. However, we urge them to preferably send the complaint by mail or electronically. Currently, we are dealing with the issues concerning the cross-border workers. They may cross the borders and work in a foreign country (typically Austria or Germany) for 14 days and then they have to come back to the Czech Republic and be in quarantine for 14 days. This regime is quite limiting.|
|Czech Republic||Public Defender of Rights||Complaints||nationality||Harassment at the workplace against a Ukrainian employee for the alleged breach of quarantine.|
|Czech Republic||Public Defender of Rights||Complaints||nationality||Denial of a hotel to accommodate clients from China, South Korea and Italy.|
|Finland||Non-Discrimination Ombudsman||Statement||Non-Discrimination Ombudsman has published one blog that has COVID-19 angle - also published in English.|
|Finland||Non-Discrimination Ombudsman||Statement||persons deprived of liberty||We have also posted a text on our website about our customer service and how we operate during the time that we are working remotely (business as usual).|
|Finland||Non-Discrimination Ombudsman||Action||disability||We have gathered links to different sites that provide COVID 19 -information in different languages and promoted both our blog post and the news item in our social media channels. We have been tagged in some discussions on Twitter about the right to get sign language interpretation remotely for children's hobbies.|
|Finland||Non-Discrimination Ombudsman||Complaints||disability, age, nationality, socio-economic disadvantage, race or ethnic origin, care responsibilities||The most common ground of discrimination in the complaints in question is disability/state of health. Other grounds in the complaints in question include age, family relationships, national or ethnic origin and other status, like place of residence, residence status of foreigners and socio-economic status.|
|Finland||Non-Discrimination Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||Rumored intent of some authorities in the social and healthcare sector to limit access of persons with disabilities to intensive care in case of a Covid-19 infection without an assessment of all other circumstances. The issue was resolved by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health by issuing guidelines which prohibits such prioritizing.|
|France||Defender of Rights||Statement||persons deprived of liberty||The DDD (Defensor) made public statements on the safety of people who are deprived of their liberty, on the necessity to close temporarily administrative holding centres for migrants. Moreover, he recalled the necessity to ensure that all new provisions, linked to the emergency context, allowing for restrictions on freedoms are sufficiently precise and strictly framed by the law to guarantee individuals protection against the risks of abuse and arbitrariness.|
|France||Defender of Rights||Action||race or ethnic origin||In the context of his promotion mission, the DDD (Defender of rights) is regularly in contact with many associations promoting equality, regrouped in 9 committees that he gathers twice a year (disability, gender, LGBTI, origins, age, etc). They've been asked to send DDD all important information linked to the crisis impacting equality. Many cases of racial discrimination against Asian people have been reported by one of these associations.|
|France||Defender of Rights||Action||In relation with the data protection commission, the DDD is following the project of phone apps to track covid, that must avoid to have any discriminatory impact of users.|
|France||Defender of Rights||Action||persons deprived of liberty||Defender of Rights wrote to the Minister of Interior (Home Office) about the worrying situation of foreigners currently held in French administrative detention centers, to the Minister of Justice, about the conditions of detention of persons on remand or already convicted. He also mentioned the working conditions of public officers working in prison in an article in the national newspaper "Le Monde", co-signed with the Chairs of the French NHRI and of independent public body in charge to control all the places where people are deprived of liberty.|
|France||Defender of Rights||Action||The Defender of Rights wrote to the chairs of both Parliament?s Chambers in the context of the discussions of the French law concerning the sanitary emergency. He drew their attention to the need to respect the principles of legality, predictability and necessity and to ensure that the new law allowing for restrictions on freedoms are sufficiently precise and strictly regulated by law to guarantee individuals protection against the risks of abuse and arbitrariness.|
|France||Defender of Rights||Complaints||socio-economic disadvantage||Following complaints concerning the ground of economic vulnerability or socio-economic disadvantage, the Defender called the attention of the Government to the situation of homeless people or people living in camps who need to be protected and on the importance of guaranteeing persons in precarious situations the use of different means of payment (cash if no credit cards) in grocery shops.|
|France||Defender of Rights||Complaints||disability||Following some complaints concerning disability the Defender called the attention of the Government to the situation of persons with disabilities, particularly those living in institutions, concerning their access to hospitalisation.|
|France||Defender of Rights||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||Complaints of ethnic profiling related to police controls in the context of the lockdown.|
|France||Defender of Rights||Complaints||disability||Complaints relating to police controls concerning people with mental disabilities.|
|France||Defender of Rights||Complaints||age||Complaints from people over 70, fearing to be discriminated against on the ground of age at the end of the lockdown (as they might not be allowed to go out at the beginning after the ease of restrictions).|
|France||Defender of Rights||Complaints||disability||Complaint submitted by a blind person about his difficulties to obtain a printable version of the authorization document necessary to leave his home.|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||Statements published by Public Defender of Georgia regarding the pandemic and emergency situation: Information on human rights standards during a pandemic/epidemic (17/03/2020) about general information on what legal regime is applied during a pandemic/epidemic, what is an emergency situation, what rights can be restricted, what is quarantine and isolation, etc.|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||Special Statement of the Public Defender of Georgia on the State of Emergency (22/03.2020) - On March 21, 2020, due to the threat of the spread of epidemic throughout Georgia, the President declared a state of emergency until April 21, 2020. Statement of the Public Defender includes information about what rights may be restricted an to what extent.|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||disability||Public Defender's Statement on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Light of Ongoing Developments (23/03/2020) Public Defender stresses the importance of providing information to vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities, and protection of their rights.|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||race or ethnic origin||Public Defender's Statement on Quarantine Regime in Bolnisi and Marneuli Municipalities (23/03/2020). On March 23rd two municipalities of Georgia, Bolnisi and Marneuli, were placed under quarantine. These municipalities are populated with Armenian and Azerbaijani ethnic minorities. Public defender published the statement in their respective languages.|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||Information on Rights and Responsibilities of Employees and Employers (26/03/2020) Public defender published General recommendations that are mandatory for everyone and applies to all sectors of the economic activity.|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||race or ethnic origin||Statement in Support of People Living in Marneuli and Bolnisi Municipalities (26/03/2020) - Public Defender showed support to the residents of Marneuli and Bolnisi municipalities and expressed concern about the xenophobic attitude of the certain part of the public towards ethnic minorities following the imposition of a lockdown on aforementioned territories in connection with the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||socio-economic disadvantage, health status||Public Defender announced that PDO will study the situation and conditions in quarantine spaces and issued several statements: Statement on Measures to be Taken to Provide Certain Medical Services and Shelter for Homeless Persons (06/04/2020) Public Defender responded to the issue of provision of shelter to people living on the streets during the state of emergency, as well as for the necessity of smooth delivery of medical services to persons enrolled in state programmes on tuberculosis, hepatitis C, dialysis and kidney transplantation.|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||race or ethnic origin||Public Defender and Council of National Minorities Term the Information Spread by Mtavari Arkhi (Main Channel) as Xenophobic (07/04/2020) - The theme of the TV story was the "Genes against Coronavirus" and it emphasized privileges of one part of the community according to their ethnicity relating to the novel coronavirus. After the TV story, the host of the programme also made an Armenophobic statement.|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||sex, sexual orientation||Statement on Issues relating to Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (08/04/2020) - Public Defender of Georgia considers that the prevention of and effective response to violence against women and domestic violence in a timely manner should be a priority for the State during the state of emergency. The international practice shows that mass isolation and curfew increase the risks of domestic violence against women and LGBT persons and make it difficult for them to have direct access to the protection and assistance services.|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Complaints||sex||Complaint referring to alleged sexual harassment by a doctor in quarantine.
The facts of the case are as follows: by the end of March the complainant arrived in Georgia from abroad. According to the rules related to COVID19, she was transferred to one of facilities allocated for quarantine, where other people also went through quarantine. A particular male doctor was assigned by the Ministry of Health, to undertake medical check of people arrived in this premises. The doctor and the complainant have not met previously. As reported by the complainant, while checking her lungs, she was asked to completely undress her blouse and while checking her joints she was asked to undress her trousers. The doctors checked her joints by stressing his hand close to her intimate parts. Before leaving, the doctor asked her, whether she had a spouse or boyfriend and if so, she had to restrain from sexual contact with him, throughout two weeks. He also left his phone number and told her, she could call anytime. The case is currently being examined.
|Germany||Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency||Action||In media interviews and on social media, we have commented several times on cases of discrmination connected to the coronavirus situation.|
|Germany||Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||Discrimination of people of Asian descent, entry forbidden to doctor's practices and various shops.
We have mostly received complaints from people with a perceived Asian background. Incidents range from racist slurs uttered in the street to severe forms of harassment. Multiple complainants have reported that strangers yelled „corona“ at them. Several people were denied service in shops, or felt that they were being kept at an excessive distance when compared to other customers or that they were the only customers that staff served while wearing a mask.
A woman with Chinese background reported that a neighbour waited for her every time she walked her dog to say “corona” to her. A young man from Malaysia received a note from his neighbour telling him to go back to China because he had brought Germany “to the gallows”. A scientist of Chinese origin received an anonymous email at her workplace, a university, which contained a Covid-19 death wish for her child, blamed all Chinese people for the virus, insulted her and told her to go back to China. The email ended with the words „I know where you live.”
The first complaint we received, in January, came from a Chinese citizen who was told not to show up for a pre-planned routine check-up at her doctor’s office even though she had not been to China in months.
|Germany||Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||Complaints about news coverage that was perceived as racist. A high number of early complaints concerned the cover of a news magazine in the early stages of the pandemic that was perceived as having racist undertones.|
|Germany||Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency||Complaints||disability||Complaints concerning the lack of accessibility of COVID-19-related information.|
|Greece||Ombudsman||Statement||disability, care responsibilities||Ombudsman is planning a public intervention related to the measures undertaken in the field of employment, stressing the need of further protection for groups of employees (mainly employees with specific diseases and their carers, but also specific categories of parents of disabled persons).|
|Hungary||Commissioner for Fundamental Rights||Action||The Commissioner is in daily contact with other ombudspersons in the region. They share information and provide assistance to each other.|
|Latvia||Ombudsman||Statement||Published information regarding employee and employer related issues due to Covid-19.|
|Latvia||Ombudsman||Action||At present, there are relatively few public questions about the effects of Covid-19. We expect that citizens and media questions will increase in the next 3-4 weeks. We plan to anonymize our answers to questions that may be of value to the general public and publish them on the Office's website. We have done this so far and often - as soon as we see that we have any questions of interest to the general public by phone, e-mail or in the form of submissions, we always anonymize them and publish them on the website. One recent example is the provision of access rights during a Covid-19 emergency in relation to the sighting of children and meeting with parents when they are not living together (see link)|
|Latvia||Ombudsman||Complaints||other status||Questions relating to why those who return from abroad can be tested for Covid -19 free of charge, while others have to pay.|
|Latvia||Ombudsman||Complaints||health status||Complaints about hate speech addressed to those who are infected with Covid-19.|
|Luxembourg||Centre for Equal Treatment||Action||As far as information is available, we share it on social media. We have not issued anything officially, but have contacted media and the Parliament. Together with partners we have also offered our help to the ministry and planned to do a follow-up after the crisis.|
|Luxembourg||Centre for Equal Treatment||Complaints||disability||Problems concerning the accessibility of COVID-19-related information, e.g. sign language accessibility, easy to read versions, CAPTCHA.|
|Malta||Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD)||Action||disability||We are engaged in awareness raising regarding schemes for disabled people that have been set up to assist during these times. Schemes in place include: Assistance with delivery of medicines, Assistance with deliveries of groceries, Financial assistance for when disabled people have to stay at home due to their health conditions, One of the taxi companies with wheelchair accessible vehicles is offering free transport to disabled people as well during the current circumstances.|
|Malta||National Commission for the Promotion of Equality||Action||sex, care responsibilities||Newsletter - Issue 12 - Equality and the Covid-19 pandemic - NCPE
NCPE also continued working on various initiatives, including communications and awareness raising on equality. Particularly, NCPE highlighted the role of equality bodies in the context of the pandemic as well as the gender perspective with regard to violence against women, financial and caring responsibilities, and front line roles of women in health and care sectors, through a set of posts published on NCPE's social media.
|Malta||National Commission for the Promotion of Equality||Action||race or ethnic origin||In addition, NCPE is currently monitoring the situation with regards to racism and xenophobia in Malta. From the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the NCPE noticed an increase in the amount of derogatory remarks and hate speech, targeting in particular migrants from African countries. These are sometimes falsely blamed for spreading the virus.|
|Netherlands||Netherlands Institute for Human Rights||Action||We have primarily addressed the issues from a fundamental rights perspective (including equality issues).|
|Netherlands||Netherlands Institute for Human Rights||Complaints||multiple discrimination, age, disability, health status||Complaints on the (alleged) priority given in intensive care to those whose life expectancy and/or quality of life after treatment is expected to be higher.|
|Netherlands||Netherlands Institute for Human Rights||Complaints||multiple discrimination, age, other status||Complaints about the Dutch support system for the self-employed during the pandemic discriminating on the grounds of age and civil status.|
|Netherlands||Netherlands Institute for Human Rights||Complaints||nationality||Complaint concerning discrimination on grounds of nationality by a Dutch person sent back from Belgium due to restrictions on non-necessary travel.|
|Netherlands||Netherlands Institute for Human Rights||Complaints||disability||The rules for the lockdown and social distancing, while neutral, have a disproportionately negative effect on persons with disabilities (e.g. when needing to leave the house for certain necessesities, they cannot bring someone to help them, or in a supermarket they have to use a trolley which they cannot due to their disability).|
|Netherlands||Netherlands Institute for Human Rights||Complaints||care responsibilities||The rules for the lockdown and social distancing, while neutral, have a disproportionately negative effect on single parents (e.g. they cannot bring their children to the supermarket, nor can they leave them at home, or bring them to others).|
|Portugal||Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment (CITE)||Action||We made an information note, which was posted on the website and on our facebook page (see link)|
|Portugal||Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment (CITE)||Complaints||multiple discrimination, sex, care responsibilities||Complaints, especially from health professionals, concerning their parental rights being being violated, in particular as regards breastfeeding leave, flexible hours and part-time work.|
|Serbia||Commissioner for Protection of Equality||Statement||age, health status||The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, Brankica Jankovic, issued a Warning to the public, in which she strongly condemned the discriminatory, dehumanizing and legally forbidden messages being sent. These messages concern frequent cases of unacceptable and offensive speech and stigmatization of persons with COVID-19 virus, as well as persons at higher risk of disease, such as the elderly and citizens of the Republic of Serbia returning from abroad, which is especially present on social networks.|
|Serbia||Commissioner for Protection of Equality||Statement||The Commissioner has issued a Recommendation to all self-government units regarding the provision of in-house assistance social service for the duration of the state of emergency caused by COVID 19 pandemic.|
|Serbia||Commissioner for Protection of Equality||Action||disability||The Commissioner sent a Recommendation on Equality Measures to the Public Media Institutions "Radio Television of Serbia" and "Radio Television of Vojvodina" - to require broadcasting in accessible formats of as much information as possible regarding the state of emergency, as well as public information campaigns and instructions from competent authorities regarding the pandemic. Particular attention was called to make information as accessible and timely as possible to viewers who have hearing impairments through the use of subtitles and / or sign language.|
|Serbia||Commissioner for Protection of Equality||Action||disability||The Commissioner also sent a letter to the Prime Minister proposing measures that would contribute to overcoming the problems encountered by persons with disabilities and persons with rare diseases after the adoption of the Decision on Declaration of the State of Emergency on the Territory of the Republic of Serbia. Update: the Government of the Republic of Serbia has accepted in the meantime the Initiative of the Commissioner for undertaking measures conducive to overcoming problems faced by persons with disability as well as persons with rare diseases following the adoption of the Decision on Imposing the State of Emergency on the territory of the Republic of Serbia.|
|Serbia||Commissioner for Protection of Equality||Complaints||care responsibilities||Following queries from citizens with childcare obligations regarding the actions of their employers, the Commissioner submitted to the Government an initiative to develop an Instruction on Employers' Treatment of Employed Parents of Minor Children during Emergency.|
|Serbia||Commissioner for Protection of Equality||Complaints||multiple discrimination, care responsibilities, disability||The Commissioner was addressed by several parents of minor children and persons with disabilities employed by the Public Company "Post of Serbia". The Commissioner sent a recommendation to the company to comply with the obligations prescribed by the Regulation on Organizing Work during Emergency Situations, and to make decisions with respect to employees who will perform their work outside the premises of the employer, or who will be allowed to stay in their homes in emergency situations, in such a way as to adhere to all recommended measures aimed at preventing the spread of the infection and without discrimination on any grounds.|
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Statement||age, sex, disability, race or ethnic origin||We issued information with official help lines and contacts at institutions for victims of domestic violence, elderly, children and youth, persons with disabilities as well as with information for Romani or Hungarian speaking minorities and for workers who can experience violation of their rights of discrimination in terms of the current situation and we highlighted the fact that home isolation can cause further threat on safety of certain vulnerable groups (such as victims of domestic violence).|
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Action||race or ethnic origin||We also closely monitor public statements of the government which could have impact or stereotype marginalized Roma communities and are preparing a response raising our concerns.|
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Complaints||care responsibilities||Just received a request about whether it could be considered a violation of human rights that in the context of the current situation, fathers are not allowed to be present during birth in certain hospitals.|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Statement||age||Advocate issued public statement (on digital platforms and press release): urging to take care of the elderly and those most at risk from the virus (AGE), All of our statements (in Slovene) are available on our webpage.|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Statement||health status||Advocate issued public statement (on digital platforms and press release): about intolerance toward patients with COVID-19.|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Statement||socio-economic disadvantage||Advocate issued public statement (on digital platforms and press release): about equal opportunities in education in the time of COVID-19 (taking care of those students who do not have internet at home).|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Statement||socio-economic disadvantage||recommendation to the Ministry of Education Science and Sport regarding equal opportunities in education during the epidemics of Covid-19 (ministry should help schools to provide all children with internet access).|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Statement||socio-economic disadvantage||Proposal to the government that in the next legislative package of measures to mitigate the effects of the epidemic, it should also take particular account of vulnerable groups of people, e.g. people with disabilities, Roma people, homeless people and single-parent families, - urging that self-service laundry facilities should be open during the epidemic (washing clothes during an epidemic is just as important as hand hygiene).|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Statement||socio-economic disadvantage||urging local municipalities to take additional measures to protect homeless people during the epidemic.|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Statement||age, disability, sex||urging to extend the interval time for grocery shopping for seniors, people with disabilities and pregnant women.|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Statement||socio-economic disadvantage||urging that all people should have access to drinking water.|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Statement||disability||Statement by the head of the Advocate Miha Lobnik for the public RTV Slovenia urging the government to take additional measures for people with disabilities.|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Complaints||nationality||A citizen and his wife were denied service at the bank. According to the complainant, until he was speaking Slovene, there was good cooperation with the bank clerk, but as soon as his wife asked him something in Italian, and the bank clerk heard it, he was denied further service. He tried to explain that he and his family are living in Slovenia and that the last time they were in Italy was in early January. The bank clerk did not want to listen to him and was, as the complainant stated, very rude.|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Complaints||disability||A commercial radio channel promoted a game via social networks to tackle boredom during the quarantine. The complainant claimed that the game is insulting to people with mental disabilities.|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Complaints||health status||A complaint was received from an employee who, after returning from vacation from the Canary Islands, was forced by her employer to take more days off and was not allowed to start teleworking, unlike her co-workers who were allowed to continue working from home, and despite the fact that she had work to do after their return. The complainant believes that she was subject to unequal treatment due to persumption that she was infected or that she might be infected.|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Complaints||disability||A complaint was filed by a person with disabilities who was denied grocery shopping by the security guard, even though he was wearing protecting gloves and a mask. The security guard told him in a very rude manner that he was denied shopping because he was allowed to do it only between 8 am and 10 am and in the last hour of business by government decree*. After this incident the complainant managed to do his grocery shopping in a nearby grocery shop. Note: the government decree temporarily prohibits the offering and sale of goods and services to consumers. The decree states, that from 8 am to 10 am and the last hour of opening time grocery shopping is allowed only to people older than 65, persons with disabilities and pregnant women. People with disabilities and pregnant women can also do grocery shopping during all the opening hours.|
|Spain||Council for the Elimination of Ethnic or Racial Discrimination||Statement||race or ethnic origin||Working on a Recommendation to avoid all kinds of acts or actions of racial or ethnic discrimination.|
|Spain||Council for the Elimination of Ethnic or Racial Discrimination||Statement||sex, care responsibilities, socio-economic disadvantage, race or ethnic origin||On April 13, the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination approved the "Recommendation: Avoid discriminatory attitudes and discourses in the current context of health, social and economic crisis". (Spanish version in PDF). Recommendation expresses concern at incidents of discrimination, rejection and hatred that have occurred against certain ethnic or racial groups, especially against the Roma people and the Asian community, in the current context of health, social and economic crisis. Main points of the recommendation: particularly concerned by racist media treatment, anti-gypsy and xenophobia that is taking place by some media, with news about the origin of the spread of the disease or alleged quarantine breaches that allude to the ethnic, racial or national origin of the people involved., allusions by public representatives to the ethnic, racial or national origin of the infected or deceased, contributing to stigma and rejection of certain groups, as well as proposals to restrict access to healthcare to certain groups, racist and xenophobic attacks and insults have been documented on public roads to people belonging to national, ethnic or racial minority groups, and a wide spread of racist, anti-gypsy and xenophobic hate speech has been detected on social networks. Recommendations include: 1. Avoid discriminatory discourses and stigmatization of groups - We appeal to the media and public representatives, as fundamental pieces in shaping public opinion, to be especially cautious in their manifestations., 2. Stop the spread of fake news and racist hate speech, 3. Guarantee equal treatment by public administrations to all people regardless of their racial or ethnic origin and their administrative situation., 4. Pay special attention to the most vulnerable groups and intersectional discrimination - such as people residing in shanty towns, women and minors victims of gender violence, ex-guardians, single-parent or single-parent families, or people in extreme poverty. Among particularly vulnerable groups we must consider the objective difficulties that immigrants and / or those belonging to certain ethnic minorities who are in a situation of severe residential exclusion have in following their confinement measures in their homes: in the street, but also in homes inadequate such as informal settlements. This makes them more visible in public spaces and may provoke racist and xenophobic attitudes towards this particular population., 5. Create anti-racist solidarity networks, 6. Report any situation of discrimination, both your own and that of others, 7. Promote equality as a State policy.|
|Spain||Council for the Elimination of Ethnic or Racial Discrimination||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||Hate speech, insults, derogatory comments and denial of access to public and private services, such as supermarkets or pharmacies, against the Roma community in Spain, caused by many people thinking that the Roma community is responsible for the spread of the disease.|
|Spain||Council for the Elimination of Ethnic or Racial Discrimination||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||Seven national newspapers and the main televisions and radios, at national and local level, have mentioned the Roma community in news related to the coronavirus. Media linked the attendance of several Roma families at a funeral was to the spreading of the disease. Other news referred to a breach of quarantine by various Roma families. Malpractice has been observed in the treatment of information, which has provoked hateful comments towards the Roma community. Several anti-Gypsy hate messages and fake news have been observed on social networks. In response, the equality body has sent more than 23 complaint letters to the media so far. They have also reported many anti-Gypsy hate messages as Trusted Flagger / trusted informant on social media and contacted the Maldito Bulo and Newtral verification platforms to deny the fake news spread by WhatsApp about the Roma community.|
|Spain||Council for the Elimination of Ethnic or Racial Discrimination||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||Some local authorities have also contributed to the stigmatization of gypsy families. In response, the Council has addressed letters to the local administrations involved in such cases.|
|Spain||Council for the Elimination of Ethnic or Racial Discrimination||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||Discriminatory incidents have been reported against the Chinese population, with 2 registered specific incidents so far. 1. Man of Asian origin, victim of brutal aggression. When he was walking down the street, several individuals insulted him with xenophobic and racist expressions referring to the Coronavirus and began to hit him on the back. Because of the assault, he has been unconscious for a day and a half. 2. Children around the age of 14 yelled “Coronavirus!” to a Chinese man in the street.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability, age||
So far, the Swedish Equality Ombudsman has identified three (3) complaints related to Covid-19 and its effects.
|Greece||Ombudsman||Action||sex, race or ethnic origin, disability, age, persons deprived of liberty, socio-economic disadvantage, care responsibilities||
On 27 March, the Greek Ombudsman, acting both as human rights defender and as equality body, sent a formal letter to competent government ministers, recommending the adoption of specific protective measures for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, such as elderly, suffering from severe chronic illnesses or homeless people, Roma communities, immigrants or asylum seekers, prisoners and detained people or people living in institutions. The main point of this intervention was to stress the need of proportionality in the measures taken in order to equally protect the groups of population affected the pandemic. In the employment context, specific measures have been recommended for pregnant employees, employees whose health conditions make any potential infection by the COVID-19 virus life threatening, as well as for carers of vulnerable persons due to their disability, condition of health, family status etc.
Regarding the increased risk for domestic violence against women, children or elderly or disabled people in locked-down conditions, the Ombudsman sent another letter to the competent authorities of the Police and the General Secretary of Family Affairs and Gender Equality, asking for specific data related to relevant complaints and the results of the action taken in dealing with them.
|Greece||Ombudsman||Complaints||sex, disability, care responsibilities, race or ethnic origin, socio-economic disadvantage, sexual orientation||The complaints received by the Equal Treatment Dept. mostly concerned gender equality, disability or chronic disease, family or social status, race in the field of employment and occupation and in the provision of goods and services. Specific complaints were related also to domestic violence due to sexual orientation or gender identity .|
The majority of the complaints were submitted by employees who were not granted specific leave in order to take care of their children of school or pre-school age after the schools and nursery schools had been closed or in order to take care of close relatives who need special assistance or whose life was at risk in case they are infected by the COVID-19 virus.
|Greece||Ombudsman||Complaints||sex, care responsibilities, multiple discrimination||There were complaints related to dismissals of pregnant women or women who granted specific parental leave, mainly in the private sector.|
According to the Legal Act of 11/3/2020, employees who are parents of children of pre-school age are granted specific leave provided that (among other conditions) their children were registered to nursery schools before these schools were closed. Consequently, the Greek Ombudsman received complaints from employees who had charged their parents to take care of their children before the pandemic. The complainants claimed that their parents were extremely vulnerable to infections due to their age and, therefore, keeping taking care of their grand-children it would entail a great risk for them. The Greek Ombudsman asked for an amendment of the legal act. The condition has been removed for the public sector but it still remains for the employees working at the private sector.
A woman employee with a fixed-term employment contract, who was granted a special parental leave, due to Covid-19, according to par. 3 of article 4 of the Legal Act of 11.03.2020, was dismissed for exceeding the days of normal leave by one day. After examination of the complaint, the Ombudsman challenged the employer's allegations that the leave had been exceeded and in coordination with the competent Labor Inspectorate Body, intervened with the employer asking to withdrew the termination of the employment contract of the working mother. The mother employee finally kept her work.
|Netherlands||Netherlands human Rights Institution||Action||disability||We will be launching a campaign/website seeking to connect persons with disabilities and/or entrepreneurs to share best practices on the website when it comes to accessibility. E.g. disabled persons can submit issues, or present best practices. Similarly, entrepreneurs can respond to issues and/or present their best practices. While not COVID-19 specific, it is of course extra pertinent now and is one of the reasons why we are launching it now|
|Netherlands||Netherlands Institute for Human Rights||Action||health status, age, disability, socio-economic disadvantage, nationality||The Dutch government was planning to create a corona-app to track infections: 1 to warn you if you have been in contact/near a person who has contracted COVID-19 and 2. One to submit information about your health following this warning. In that context, it launched a request for proposals. the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights was part of the expert group evaluating the proposals and submitted some guidelines that the apps needed to comply with.
These guidelines focussed on three points: 1. Need to address the value added of the app over other options (‘subsidiarity test’). 2. The need to tailor the app for use also by persons in a vulnerable position (persons with disabilities, the elderly, persons with limited digital access and/or with limited reading capacity, migrants who may not speak Dutch) 3. The need to consider the broader implications: e.g. guarding against function creep (app used for other purposes), the fact that a voluntary app may quickly become obligatory if service providers (from schools to cafés) will start requiring as a precondition for access etc. See here.
As result of the critical notes of the various expert groups the government is now considering instead whether it will use the app at all, and if so, whether it will be developed inhouse instead.
|Cyprus||Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights||Action||Our Institute has launched an Awareness Campaign about COVID-19 and Human Rights and a special site has been created in our website with links to all the necessary information about COVID-19 pandemic, as well to our Institution's interventions regarding COVID-19 and its impact to human rights in general. Link in Greek and English.|
|Cyprus||Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights||Statement||persons deprived of liberty||On March 26th, 2020, the Commissioner, within her capacity as Cyprus National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) addressed a Letter/Statement to the Ministry of Justice and Public Order, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance. The statement contained a list of guidelines and specific recommendations, in accordance with the CPT’s Statement of Principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and requested that these ministries adhere to them. Link in Greek. Following the Letter/Statement, the Ministry of Justice proceeded with the amendment of the relevant Law and as a result, detainees received early release from the Nicosia Central Prison. A number of detainees were also placed under the Open Prison Scheme, while others started serving the remainder of their sentence at home, under electronic monitoring (bracelet). Link to α relevant publication (in English).|
|Cyprus||Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights||Statement||disability||An Own Initiative Intervention dated April 3rd, 2020, which was issued in Commissioner’s capacity as the Independent Mechanism for the Promotion, Protection and Monitoring of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, regarding the access of persons with disabilities and/or other vulnerable groups, including persons who live in psychiatric institutions and social care homes to information on the coronavirus pandemic, was also forwarded to the relevant ministries. Link to the Intervention (in Greek). Regarding persons with disabilities in the context of COVID-19 pandemic, the following suggestions were submitted:
|Cyprus||Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights||Complaints||disability||Our Office began an own initiative investigation of a case of persons with disabilities who were not allowed to abstain from their work place due to COVID-19 infection of their colleagues (including a person with disabilities). Case still under investigation.|
|Cyprus||Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights||Complaints||disability, care responsibilities, multiple discrimination||A complaint has been received to our Office regarding and from a single parent of two children with disabilities, regarding the special leave for child care. Case still under investigation.|
|Cyprus||Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights||Action||persons deprived of liberty, race or ethnic origin, socio-economic disadvantage, other status, multiple discrimination||On April 9th, 2020, the Commissioner, within the framework of her jurisdiction as a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) and a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), conducted a visit to the Kokkinotrimithia Temporary Migrants Reception and Accommodation Center, to observe how the measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) were being implemented and how the fundamental rights of persons deprived of their liberty were ensured under these circumstances. The NPM’s visit, which adhered to the “do no harm” principle, was conducted with the full cooperation of management and employees, all requested information was provided and confidential interviews were conducted with residents at the center. Link to relevant Press Release (in Greek). A relevant Report was issued on April 23rd, 2020 and has been forwarded to the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Justice and Public Order, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance. Link to the Report (in English).
Lastly, following a written communication between the Cyprus NPM and the Director of Immigration Services, two persons from Iran who were arrested under aliens legislation were released from custody, under specific terms.
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Ombudsman of Bosnia & Herzegovina||Complaints||disability, other status||We have received multiple complaints in the following areas:
Discrimination, Child rights, Health care system, Access to information, Education, Judiciary, Administration, Disabled persons
|Georgia||Public Defender of Rights||Action||other status||
|Georgia||Public Defender of Rights||Statement||health status, other status||Public Defender’s Special Address to Authorities relating to Protection of Right to Life (17/04/2020) - Given the alarming epidemiological forecast, the Public Defender called on the Government to take into account the statements of health workers and epidemiologists and to fulfil its positive obligation relating to the protection of the right to life. Otherwise, due to the lack of preventive measures or delayed response, the Georgian Government will be held responsible for the significant increase in the number of infected people and fatalities. The Public Defender of Georgia also called on the population of Georgia to take into account the imposed restrictions, the strict observance of which is the only way to protect their own and others’ rights to life and health.|
|Georgia||Public Defender of Rights||Action||Public Defender published short guide for the citizens that have been fined for violating the isolation and/or quarantine rules after the state of emergency was declared in the country. The guide answers most frequently asked questions about where and how the fine can be appealed and how should it be paid (04/05/2020).|
|United Kingdom||Equality Commission for Northern Ireland||Action||care responsibilities, sex, disability||Recent articles published by ECNI on COVID-19 include:
30/04/2020 - Face masks - overcoming the barriers they pose to communications (article)
29/04/2020 - Protecting your staff and business during the Covid-19 pandemic (article)
21/04/2020 - Section 75 duties when developing Covid-19 related policies (article)
16/04/2020 - Protecting pregnant employees during the Covid-19 (article)
07/04/2020 - People with disabilities must not be left behind by response to Convid-19 (blog)
06/04/2020 - Furlough leave - advice note for employers (article)
01/04/2020 - Equality matters in extraordinary times (blog)
31/03/2020 - Difficult times, difficult decisions (article)
|Albania||Commissioner for the Protection from Discrimination||Statement||socio-economic disadvantage||Commissioner issued a Recommendation for the expansion of the list of beneficiary subjects of financial assistance, during the period of natural disaster, announced as a result of COVID-19, referring to the Decision of the Council of Ministers no. 254, dated 27.3.2020. The CPD asked to the competent authorities, to take measures, including legal ones, to expand the list of beneficiaries receiving financial assistance, by:
|Albania||Commissioner for the Protection from Discrimination||Statement||socio-economic disadvantage||CPD issued a Recommendation for the expansion of the list of entities that fall into the category of needy strata, defined in point 4 of the Decision of the Council of Ministers no. 236, dated 19.03.2020. The CPD asked to the competent authorities, to take measures, for the inclusion in point 4 of the DCM no. 236/2020 "On taking measures to provide housing assistance to the needy strata, in conditions of the epidemic caused by COVID-19", during the period of natural disaster, announced as a result of COVID-19, in order to:
This recommendation derives from a complaint submitted by an organization with legitimate interest against the Council of Ministers, which claims discrimination due to "economic and family situation". The organization informs that the Council of Ministers has approved Decision no. 236, dated 19.03.2020, leaving behind families who provide income through informal work and thus, do not find themselves relying on the categories defined in this decision. Therefore they cannot benefit from the assistance provided by the services provided by state institutions. It is necessary that the poor families, who have members as unemployed jobseekers, which for objective reasons have not been able to get a job from the state institutions, are also part of this decision, as beneficiaries of the housing assistance.
|Albania||Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination||Action||sexual orientation, other status||
With regard to public appearances, mainly, the Commissioner:
Link of fcb post: https://www.facebook.com/antidiskriminimi/photos/a.598065836903242/2904157556294047/?type=3&theater
|Germany||Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency||Complaints||race or ethnic origin, health status||
A student from South Korea had to end her year abroad in Germany prematurely and was on a train to the airport, when she was approached by a train attendant who inquired about her health. Even though she replied she felt completely healthy, she was then escorted from the train by police officers. She was interrogated about her health and asked whether she had been in contact with any infected people. Two medical workers in protective gear continued this interrogation which happened in plain sight on the platform. The student missed her train, but mostly felt humiliated in front of a crowd that watched her and took photos of her against her will.
|Germany||Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency||Complaints||age||
Reported cases of discrimination on grounds of age affect children as well as older people. Multiple supermarkets and DIY stores reportedly refuse admission to children, which puts single parents into difficulties.
There have been repeated complaints about media reports and comments by politicians that refer to at-risk populations as “the old and the weak”. While not discriminatory in the legal sense, this is perceived as stigmatising.
|Germany||Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency||Complaints||disability||
As a protective measure, many supermarkets mandate the use of a shopping cart. According to a complaint, at least one supermarket did not want to allow an exception for people who are using a walking aid thus making it impossible for them to access the store.
People with hearing disabilities feel particularly disadvantaged in the current crisis. We have received repeated complaints about a lack of sign language interpretation for government press conferences and news broadcasts. We have also received complaints about compulsory mask wearing, which makes it impossible for people with hearing impairments to practice lip reading.
|Germany||Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency||Complaints||sexual orientation||
We have received a number of complaints pointing out that the official application forms for government support in the context of the Covid-19 crisis do not include the legally recognised third gender option “diverse”. Instead have to self-identify as either „male“ or „female“ and potentially mis-gender themselves.
|Ireland||Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission||Statement||Released a statement on 27th April on COVID-19 Oversight in Respect of Human Rights and Equality on IHREC's website.|
|Spain||Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination||Action||race or ethnic origin, age, sex, socio-economic disadvantage||
One of the members of the Spanish Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination, Fundación Secretariado Gitano, who is also the coordinator of the Support Service for victims of racial or ethnic discrimination of the Council, has carried out a telephone survey of almost 11,000 Roma who participate in their programs, in 68 cities throughout Spain during the week of March 30 to April 3. The objectives were to verify the situation that we already perceive, to know the real needs of the participants and to adapt their intervention.
The survey provides data on five fields: the health situation, social needs, employment, education of minors and perception of situations of discrimination. Despite the low real incidence of Covid-19 on the Roma population, its image has been negatively over-represented in some media, on social networks, or in the public discourse of some politicians.
I point out some data demonstrating the social and health situation that many Roma families are experiencing, in most cases, with minors under their care:
Regarding the perception of discrimination, we included two questions in the survey form:
|United Kingdom||Equality and Human Rights Commission||Action||disability, age,||
below some recent examples of actions taken by the EHRC in response to COVID-19.
We also have a general link page on our COVID-19 work which members might wish to access at
|Spain||Institute of Women||Action||sex||
Regarding EB responses to COVID-19, please find here the link to an English version publication made by the Institute of Women addressing the gender impact of the pandemic and the importance of incorporating the gender perspective in the response to the crisis. The publication also includes some of the measures adopted by the Government.
|Malta||National Commission for the Promotion of Equality||Action||race or ethnic origin, sex, nationality, care responsibilities, age||
NCPE published an article in a local newspaper (below) highlighting various aspects of equality in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Reference to the important role of equality bodies, as per EQUINET’s blogs, is also made.
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||disability, care responsibilities, multiple discrimination||
Public Defender Considers that the Anti-Crisis Economic Plan does not Properly Address the Needs of Persons with Disabilities – Government of Georgia presented the Anti-Crisis Economic Plan to deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19. According to the plan, only persons with severe disabilities and children with disabilities will enjoy social benefits, while persons with significant and moderate disabilities, as well as the children with Down syndrome and autism, who do not have the disability status due to the defective assessment model, are left without assistance. Since various programmes for persons with disabilities were suspended across the country, the services are partially delivered remotely, which is often ineffective, families cannot cope with the social needs of persons with disabilities and the local authorities do not carry out effective measures, the Public Defender considers it necessary that the planned activities be reviewed and amended.
|Georgia||Public Defender||Action||other status||
Public Defender Held an Online Meeting with Head of State Care and Trafficking Agency and received information about the working methods and activities of the Agency during the pandemic. Public Defender received information on the activities of social workers and psychologists, as well as in the method of processing cases and contacting persons in need. Particular attention was paid to the situation of children in state care.
|United Kingdom||Equality Commission for Northern Ireland||Complaints||disability, sex,||With regard to the enquiries that we have had on potential discriminatory action they are in the main from disabled people and pregnant women.
The majority of complaints about potential discriminatory treatment in relation to Covid-19 relate to employment. Consistency of treatment of employees, or lack of it, with respect to furlough and redundancy schemes has been raised on the Commission’s Helpline. A number of specific concerns have been raised by both disabled workers and pregnant workers. These include health and safety issues and risk assessments, particularly within the care sector and employees (disabled and pregnant employees) being told to take sick leave, rather than working at home or being furloughed. Educational provision for disabled children of key workers, has also been raised as an issue.
We are attempting to resolve informally a disability discrimination (failure of reasonable adjustment) complaint by a hearing impaired public representative who has failed to get access to MS Teams when working remotely, even though this was used and available within her workplace.
|Poland||Commissioner for Human Rights||Statement||Commissioner gave a public statement published on official website of the Office. Our communication on the impact of the coronavirus situation on human rights is very broad and includes regular publications on the website (with eye-catching designs and infographics) and on social media channels. Please see the website (only in Polish) . The Commissioner for Human Rights in Poland holds not only the mandate of the Equality Body. Consequently, our actions regarding the coronavirus situation, as well as the communications on it, refer to all human rights issues, including but also exceeding the principal of equal treatment.|
|Poland||Commissioner for Human Rights||Action||disability, persons deprived of liberty||We receive many complaints and motions connected with the epidemic. We are trying to inform people as quickly as possible about their rights and duties on our website and on social media. Special teams are still operating: the Social Council, the Expert Committee on Elder People’s Rights or the Expert Committee on Deaf People’s Rights, they seek to bring helpful solutions to encountered problems. We publish Q&A daily on our website. Those are answers for questions brought to us over the phone. In that manner we fight disinformation and fake news. People ask about different issues: law and daily concerns, i.e. disability allowance, quarantine, prisoners’ rights, funeral travels, but also going fishing and making a barbecue. We have observed a great increase of interest in our work and visitors on our website. We work on ensuring that our messages are accessible and in line with European law.|
|Poland||Commissioner for Human Rights||Action||sex||We put special effort in monitoring the situation of families vulnerable to domestic violence, including the families where the acts of violence have been previously reported.|
|Poland||Commissioner for Human Rights||Complaints||multiple discrimination, age, disability||Problems of access to information about the pandemic and the actions undertaken by the State, with the main issue being the availability of the National Health Fund helpline for people with hearing problems: it operates only for certain hours, while for other citizens it is currently available 24/7. Moreover, deaf people complained about the lack of accessibility of press conferences and government communications about the current situation as not all of them are translated into sign language in real time. Furthermore, the window where the interpreter appears on the screen is so small that it often makes it difficult or impossible to read information for seniors and people with simultaneous vision and hearing impairments. Following these complaints, the Commissioner intervened at the Minister of Health and received a response that the government had taken these issues into consideration and activated the service of on-line sign language translation on the official websites with communication on the pandemic. Further improvements are being developed.|
|Poland||Commissioner for Human Rights||Action||nationality||With regard to the problem of domestic violence in the time of pandemic: The Commissioner has appealed to the Minister of Family, Labor and Social Policy and the Police Commander in Chief to ensure the proper functioning of the support system for victims of domestic violence in the time of pandemic. Due to restrictions on freedom of movement and introduction of compulsory quarantine for some citizens, people experiencing domestic violence found themselves in an extremely difficult situation. Under current conditions, the threat to their lives and health increases. Therefore, the Commissioner has recommended the public authorities to: create a database of support services and shelters for victims of domestic violence, which are open and available regardless the current situation; to ensure that services in the field of medical, psychological, legal, social, professional and family counseling - despite the lack of personal contact - are provided without interruption, by telephone or remotely; Concerning the situation of foreigners – on the borders, with regards to travel restrictions and in the context of situation in the centres for international protection-seekers: the Commissioner had concerns about the border traffic restrictions imposed by Polish authorities. Therefore the official communication has been addressed to the Minister of Interior Affairs and Administration, and the Border Guards Commander in Chief, pointing out that new regulations deprive certain categories of foreigners of the right to enter the territory of Poland, although these rights are guaranteed to them by different legal acts. The Commissioner has inquired about the number of foreigners that were denied the right to enter Poland due to the introduced restrictions on traffic, as well as the procedure for issuing possible refusal decisions. The replies are still awaited. Moreover, the Commissioner had also intervened with regards to the conditions which travellers returning to Poland had to face on the border crossings. On some of them waiting time to cross has reached 30 hours and the Commissioner requested the authorities to guarantee that people are provided with water and food. Finally, the Commissioner has also raised concerns whether the rights of persons applying for international protection or benefiting from social assistance for foreigners, are protected in the time of pandemic. The inquiries and appeals, addressed to the Head of the Office for Foreigners, regarded the protection measures undertaken in the centres for foreigners and asylum-seekers, the consequences of current restrictions on the right to apply for international protection.|
|Poland||Commissioner for Human Rights||Complaints||age||Restriction on minors to be alone outside their homes. This restriction applies also to Ukrainian students who are less than 18 and cannot do shopping or leave their house on their own.|
|Poland||Commissioner for Human Rights||Complaints||disability||Questions about social support and concerns whether persons with disabilities can go outside with a carer.|
|Poland||Commissioner for Human Rights||Complaints||nationality||Concerns regarding the situation of foreigners: the Commissioner acted on discrimination with access to remote education, checking if there are computers for children in centres for foreigners.|
|Poland||Commissioner for Human Rights||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||Issues in a Roma settlement where there is no access to sewers service, households do not have access to running water and amongst the inhabitants there are elderly and chronically ill. Roma children have limited access to remote education during schools suspension.|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Ombudsman of Bosnia & Herzegovina||Complaints||other status||A group of parents complained about the unprofessional work and actions of the teacher (research process in progress) during the distance learning.|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Ombudsman of Bosnia & Herzegovina||Complaints||age, nationality, health status||Received several calls due to the closure of state borders (our citizens from border areas are dissatisfied with the formation of quarantine or the inability to move to Serbia or Croatia in order to cultivate their piece of land, raise their pension funds or exercise the right to health care).|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Ombudsman of Bosnia & Herzegovina||Complaints||care responsibilities||Received calls from parents who do not live with their children due to, for example, divorce. They have a problem of maintaining direct and personal contact with their kids during the state of emergency (our Institution has several complaints registered regarding this issue). Already registered complainants point to new difficulties due to the pandemic.|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Ombudsman of Bosnia & Herzegovina||Complaints||age, disability,||We receive frequent questions from citizens and the media regarding prohibitions and measures issued by the competent crisis headquarters (freedom of movement for children and the elderly, publication of all decisions of the competent authorities in a way that is transparent to all citizens). Citizens also address both inquiries and requests that regular courts should start working and judging, especially to decide on urgent and temporary measures.|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Ombudsman of Bosnia & Herzegovina||Complaints||health status||Complaints regarding decisions on self-isolation, citizen dissatisfied, because he only received a decision after the expiration of the self-isolation period, told only orally that he must be home and was regularly invited, but without a decision (case in progress). We have more than one case regarding self-isolation and accommodation in an isolation ward.|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Ombudsman of Bosnia & Herzegovina||Complaints||other status,||We have several other COVID-19 related cases: One case and complaint concerning torture suffered during curfew (ongoing investigation), - One case concerning potential wrongful dismissal from employment during the pandemic and - Two cases in the sphere of freedom of expression.|
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Complaints, Action, Statement||race or ethnic origin, health status||
In the end of April 2020, the Centre received a complaint about police mistreatment and violence in a Roma settlement, which was placed into quarantine after several inhabitants tested positive for COVID-19, which included video recording and pictures. The complaint alleged that victims of such police treatment were also minors. The video and pictures were also posted at social media. The Centre issued a press release and called for the President of the Police Force of the Slovak Republic to investigate the allegations and adopt necessary measures in case it is proven that the police conduct violated human dignity of the Roma concerned or amounted to torture or other inhuman or cruel treatment. The Centre also highlighted the inadequacy and lack of justification of certain measures adopted in respect to isolated Roma settlements based on the decision of the government to primarily test Roma communities to prevent the spread of the pandemic, which has caused growing disturbance in the settlements isolated. The statement of the Centre is available at its website and was also shared through social media. It was widely covered in media and the situation is being investigated. The Centre has also addressed a request for information about the investigation to relevant authorities and is awaiting the response.
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Action||race or ethnic origin||
Prior to targeting testing for COVID-19 in marginalised Roma settlements, which was a measure introduced in April 2020 to detect possible outburst in these vulnerable communities, one Roma settlement was already put in general quarantine after one of its inhabitants breached the obligatory quarantine upon his return from abroad. The whole settlement was put in quarantine until the tests were run, which proved negative results. The Centre monitored the situation and approached the mayor of the town concerned to explain the measures adopted. The Centre also consulted the situation with NGO working in the region. The situation was also consulted with the local social worker, who confirmed that the town secured food and medicine supply and provision of health care to people living in the settlement. No incidents or violence caused by the situation were reported and the situation was daily monitored by field social workers. The Centre followed-up on the development with the local social worker who informed it that inhabitants with negative test results were allowed to freely move around and leave the area of the settlement as needed.
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Action||health status||
The Centre monitors whether and to what extent health care facilities and doctors have only been providing urgent health care. The Centre addressed a request to the Ministry of Health to undertake steps to remediate the current situation, which it considers in violation with the right to health, and to adopt legislation to prevent such situation in the future. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health informed that guidance for health care providers are being prepared so that they relax the measures adopted and start providing also planned interventions and other health care. The Centre has currently been addressed letters to public providers of institutional health care calling for them to remediate the situation and provide health care in standard regime, considering the right to health as well as low numbers of new positive tests and hospitalised persons treated for COVID-19 in Slovakia. The letters also requested information to monitor the scale at which human rights have been interfered into by measures adopted by particular providers, which units were the most affected and until when the measures plan to apply. The Centre consulted the situation also with civil society organisations, for instance Association for Protection of Patients’ Right or organisation for patients with cancer (Nie rakovine – No to cancer). Further steps will be communicated at website and social media of the Centre.
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Action||sex, health status||
Based on information in media, the Centre registered a problem with access to safe abortions, which are legal in Slovakia up to 12 weeks of pregnancy based on the woman’s choice. There appear to be cases when women have been rejected abortions with an argument that the health care providers (hospitals and clinics) are in the current situation only providing urgent health care. The situation was also contested by the public defender of rights. In response, the Minister of Health supported such approach under which abortion based on a woman’s free choice is not considered urgent health care. The Centre approached the Health Care Surveillance Authority whether they have received any complaint in this regard, however, no such complaints were reported. The Centre further contacted several different specialists in gynaecology, who confirmed that due to the limited time when abortion based on free choice can be conducted, it is indeed an urgent health care, contrary to the Ministry’s opinion. The Centre consequently addressed a written request for statement from the main expert for gynaecology at the Ministry of Health. The Centre has also offered cooperation to the Slovak Gynaecology-Obstetrics Society and addressed its members a call to respect ethical code of medical workers and act upon their best medical knowledge, irrespective of political statements of the Ministry of Health, in order to protect sexual and reproductive rights of women.
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Action||sex||
The Centre also raises attention to social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls, considering that the current situation only deepens existing inequality and uncovers vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems. In these regards, the Centre shared the policy brief of the UN Secretary General on the impact of COVID-19 on women, as well as informed about the particular risk of increased gender-based violence during the current situation together with contacts of where to seek help (on our website).
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Action||disability, care responsibilities||
The Centre also promotes measures specifically affecting particular groups, such as the measure that compulsory wearing of face-masks no longer applies to people with autism (on our website) or special grant aid provided to personal assistants to persons with disabilities and measures allowing family members, who were not listed as assistants prior to the pandemic, to temporarily act as personal assistants to relatives with disabilities and receive the related contributions (on our website).
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Statement||race or ethnic origin, other status||
In the beginning of April 2020, in response to critique of civil society from government actors upon repeated calls for respecting human rights of the most vulnerable (in particular marginalised Roma communities) addressed by NGOs, the Centre issued a statement of support to the civil society organisations, many of which are now in the field helping those most vulnerable and cooperating with municipalities or the state in order to contribute to protection of fundamental rights of the marginalised and vulnerable groups. The call also underlines the importance of civil society organisations in democratic space. The statement of support is available at the Centre’s website and was shared on its Facebook and Instagram profiles, where people could also tag the civil society organisations whose work they appreciate.
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Complaints||other status||We have received two complaints which concerned labour problems, while one client wanted to know options available in case the employer does not pay the wage for the previous month and the other complained about freezing of bonuses due to corona crisis- both complaints were not relevant in terms of discrimination.|
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Complaints||age||One complaint concerned the area of goods and services and was filed by an older person alleging that in the time reserved for seniors (9-11) there was a younger person in a shop and the security did not respond. This complaint was not assessed as discrimination.|
|Slovakia||National Centre for Human Rights||Complaints||nationality, other status,||Four cases concerned the situation regarding border crossing in the current situation. One person complained that the location of compulsory state quarantine /obligatory for people coming from abroad in order to be tested/ was in his case too far away causing him health problems. One in general complained that this measure of compulsory state quarantine infringes with human rights. One client complained that his situation is not covered by the regime adopted for posted workers (free entry if they live or work 30 km from the border) as he commutes to Austria and his workplace is 37km from the border. This person was instructed how to claim an exception. And finally, the only relevant complaint with regards to equal treatment concerned a situation of a truck driver who was subjected to the quarantine rules as compared to other truck drivers entering Slovakia. Discrimination was, however, not established since the situation was not comparable as it showed that this person was working abroad and entering Slovakia as any other Slovak workers from abroad (i.e. not on work duty) as compared to other truck drivers with exception from the compulsory quarantine that enter Slovakia to either load/unload the goods or transit Slovakia to another country.|
|Spain||INstitute of Women||Action||sex||
The Institute of Women and for Equal Opportunities has been working remotely since 15th March. In addition to the continuity of its ordinary activities to support gender equality and women´s rights, the Institute has inaugurated weekly on-line debates on relevant topics regarding gender equality and Covid-19, women´s empowerment, harassment and social networks, care, and other political, economic and social issues from a feminist perspective.
The debates, that can be followed through the Institute of Women YouTube channel.
|Germany||Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency||Complaints||disability, health status, multiple discrimination||As of 20 May, we have received 198 Covid-19-related complaints. In recent days an increasing number of complaints have concerned retail stores (in particular one department store chain) that refuse entry to people without facemasks, even in cases where these people have doctor's certificates that legally exempt them from compulsory mask-wearing for medical reasons.|
|Luxembourg||Centre for Equal Treatment||Complaints||religion or belief||
Restrictions put in place due to Covid-19 are discriminating against religious people who are not allowed to visit/hold church service, even when respecting barrier gestures, and thus not putting anyone at risk.
|Luxembourg||Centre for Equal Treatment||Complaints||age, disability||
Due to Covid-19 restrictions a number of businesses (e.g. cinemas, supermarkets) as well as some government services (Covid-testing facilities) started providing “drive-in” / “drive-through” services, discriminating against persons who are not or no longer able to drive a car due to their age or different forms of disability.
|Malta||Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD)||Action||disability||Last week the Maltese Government announced that restaurants would be able to open using tables and chairs outside their restaurants on the pavement.
This was done without consultation with us and will cause considerable difficulty with regards to access for people using wheelchairs. The Commissioner Mr Oliver Scicluna contacted the Times of Malta who published an article. This article spoke about the lack of consultation with regard to this, and other issues that affected disabled people, despite the fact that we had established a task force to deal with the Covid situation and its repercussions for disabled people.
As a result of this article the person co-ordinating the Government's approach to Covid contacted us and asked for a meeting where we can hopefully establish a process which will mean the rights of disabled people are taken into consideration with respect to Covid actions taken in the future.
|Cyprus||Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights||Action||sex, health status||
Own Initiative Intervention of Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights as an Equality Body, regarding women's right related to maternity during the COVID-19 period (SUMMARY)
In an own- initiative Report dated 8 May 2020, the Cyprus Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights suggested that public and private hospitals with gynecological clinics should allow fathers to be present during childbirth and the birth of their children, provided that each father is successfully subjected to a COVID-19 negative test.
The Commissioner said she was prompted to weigh in on the matter after receiving complaints that public and private hospitals had decided or were inclined to ban fathers during labour.
Under her competence as an Equality Body, the Commissioner stressed that the exclusion of future fathers in an absolute way from attending childbirth, invoking the emergency due to Covid-19, is not in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, and the non-discrimination rule in relation to the obligation for more favourable treatment on women’s issues related to motherhood. She also stated that ensuring maternity protection prohibits any less favourable treatment of a woman, in particular as regards pregnancy, childbirth, lactation and motherhood and a violation of the above, constitutes gender discrimination.
Women’s rights during childbirth, must be protected during the Covid-19 pandemic the Commissioner said, if all of the necessary precautionary and protective measures are taken to avoid the risk of spreading the virus. Otherwise it would constitute direct gender discrimination against pregnant women wishing to have the person of their choice present during childbirth.
Among the rights expectant mothers have in order to ensure a safe and positive experience during childbirth, is respect for their choices and preferences, including the choice of the person who will be with them during labour.
The Commissioner recommended that all hospitals, public and private, allow the presence of fathers during labour and the birth of their children, if each father tests negative for COVID-19. The Commissioner underlined that her opinion was based on the scientific recommendations of international organisations such as the WHO, the International Confederation of Midwives and the United Nations Population Fund.
A special reference was made to the recommendation made by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, to the CoE member states in the context of tackling the pandemic, to ensure full access of women to services without any discrimination, which in terms of motherhood, means the prohibition of less favourable treatment.
The Report was submitted to the Minister of Health who is the competent authority for issuing such instructions to public and private hospitals in order for them to abide the recommendation issued by the Commissioner.
Link to the Intervention(in Greek) - here.
Relevant publication about the Intervention (in English) - here.
|Cyprus||Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights||Action||disability||Children with disabilities-Reopening of schools - The Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights (Ombudsman), acting as an Independent Mechanism for the Promotion, Protection and Monitoring of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, produced a Report (attached) regarding Ministry of Education discriminatory policy towards children with disabilities, due to the requirements they need to fulfil to return to school, after reopening of Primary schools.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Statement||race or ethnic origin, age, disability, socio-economic disadvantage||We have continued using our communication platforms to place special attention on Roma people during the crisis. Other than having an article on the subject on our website, the Deputy Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter talked about the issue to the press, stressing the importance of raising the level of health and sanitary protection for Roma families and settlements, as well as the necessity to make drinking water, as well as disinfectants available to all. She also warned of the lack of technical infrastructure that would grant some Roma children access to online school or preparatory Croatian language lessons. Finally, she emphasized the importance of inclusion the Roma people in the decisions that involve them.
Hence, we have urged the authorities to secure uninterrupted work of civil society organizations, by including them in measures to tackle coronavirus financial effects, especially as many of them are helping those at the highest risk of the impacts of the pandemic: homeless, older people, people with disabilities, Roma, etc. In this endeavor, we have also sent out an inquiry to appropriate authorities, laying out the importance of including these organizations in the decision making processes, which can help strengthen public trust in the institutions and measures and restrictions brought up to tackle the pandemic.
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Statement||socio-economic disadvantage, other status||We have also been vocal on the importance of an effective judicial system, whose work was significantly hindered not only due to the pandemic, but also the devastating earthquake that hit Zagreb in March, damaging many buildings, including those belonging to courts. Due to these conditions, only urgent proceedings are being held, which might have an impact on timely submissions to the court and missed deadlines. Even though the current legislation does provide tools that can mitigate this, it does not apply in all situations and might require additional lawyer’s fees, which might impede access to courts to those with lower incomes. We also used the opportunity to stress the importance of effective free legal aid as a way to ensure equal access to courts.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Statement, Action||race or ethnic origin, socio-economic disadvantage, persons deprived of liberty, nationality||Persons under international protection, including both asylum seekers and irregular migrants are also in a vulnerable position. We wrote about the need to provide them with appropriate accommodation, especially if the need for self-isolation arises, but also to ensure access to health care, education and up-to-date information regarding infection prevention. We have sent out inquiries to authorities to get information about measures that have taken place to ensure high sanitary standards for these groups, and access to information in different languages.
We have sent inquiries to relevant authorities on whether all information and instructions to the public are available in all the minority languages (see statement by the Chair of the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages), as well as the main languages used by migrants in the country in line with the Introductory on the anti-discrimination, diversity and inclusion dimensions of the response to COVID-19 issued by the secretariat of the Steering Committee on Anti-discrimination, Diversity and Inclusion (CDADI) of Council of Europe.
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Action||age, health status, socio-economic disadvantage, multiple discrimination||We have also been writing about complaints that we get that affect many people. One such is limited access to banks due to the restrictions of movement. We wrote an article on our investigation on suspected discrimination after receiving a complaint filed against a commercial bank for not issuing cards for protected accounts, owned by enforcement debtors. This means they cannot use ATMs or other banking services available to other clients with bank cards, such as contactless payment or internet banking, but instead are forced to go to the bank. As many enforcement debtors are older persons and chronically ill, who are in increased risk of coronavirus infection and should therefore avoid social contact as much as possible, such practice could constitute discrimination based on property, socio-economic status and health. We have been warning about the implications of this for some years, but now it is especially important and we have already received multiple complaints on this issue. After approaching several banks with this issue, and respective state authorities, we have had some success with this, having banks taking the steps to make their service widely available despite current restrictions|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Statement||health status||Living in times of widespread fear from COVID-19, caused by the coronavirus, citizens who are perceived to be infected, or those who indeed are infected, are in an increased risk of stigmatization. We are communicating about this as well, stressing how this may lead to many obstacles in the realization of their human rights, by denials of goods and services, but also to various forms of discrimination in many different areas of life. The media also plays an important role here, so we warned how it is important to report on these cases in a way that does not provide information from which it would be possible to identify those who have been tested or confirmed as infected. As we are also dealing with a complaint in which identities of the infected ones in a small town have been revealed, we used this experience to stress the importance of protection against stigmatization.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Action||age, health status||As the public has been paying close attention to current affairs regarding COVID-19, it is important to build their trust in independent bodies by keeping them informed on our work in investigating possible gaps in the system. This is why we rapidly informed the public via Twitter that we have initiated an investigation on the appearance of the virus in a home for the elderly in Split, and the information was widely shared by major media outlets. We have also written on our website that we have sent out necessary inquiries to the responsible authorities, detailing the questions we asked and informing public that, after receiving all relevant information, assessment will be made whether the rights of the infected, but also other beneficiaries, were violated in this case. In a media statement, the Ombudswoman Lora Vidović said this investigation was a priority for our institution, as it regards treatment of those in most vulnerable position.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Statement||age, disability, health status||
We have also reacted strongly to an insulting and utterly inappropriate statement by an MP about older persons, who had on his Facebook profile raised a question whether it is normal for “the entire country to be paralysed and quarantined for months, so some grandfather or great-grandfather could live a day, a week, a month or a year longer?“.
We condemned this statement, saying how statements such as this one diminish the value of life of one group of citizens, but also pave the road for the same to be done to other vulnerable groups such as the seriously ill, persons with disabilities, members of national minorities, children and others.
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||socio-economic disadvantage, other status, age,||We received a few different complaints that involve different treatment of professions when it comes to government financial aid. Namely, in order to relieve the financial impact of the restrictions and to save jobs and keep companies afloat, the state brought a number of acts that guaranteeing some form of financial aid. We have received some inquiries regarding the possible unfair criteria and different treatment accompanied by discussion on equal value of certain work. One such example that we are looking into involves higher financial aid to artists earning more money. Artists in lower income bracket argue that their existence is equally, if not moreso, at risk from the restrictions and not being able to work.
We are also looking into a complaint from a retired citizen who is not eligible for government support meant to maintain jobs during the crisis. Namely, the state had previously made it possible for retired people to work part time so they can earn additional funds to their often low pensions. However, these jobs were not a part of the program to provide support during the crisis so this vulnerable group as it was the position of the authorities that they already receive basic income.
An example of complaint related to employment would be a worker who was dismissed via telephone because she couldn’t come to work as all local transportation has been shut off temporarily.
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||We are also receiving reports of inappropriate or hateful speech towards person of Asian origin. One such involves a passenger who heard the bus driver making improper or hateful comments on persons of Asian origin. A complaint has been filed with the bus company and the proceeding is in process.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||persons deprived of liberty, socio-economic disadvantage||
An interesting initiative rose out of the prison system. As visitation during the pandemic was now allowed, video calls were enabled for all prisoners. We received and recognized this practice as a positive one and, following request of our complaints, recommended this to be available for prisoners and their families of lower socioeconomic status as a regular option.
Further to that, we had a case of a homeless person who was detained for an unusually long period of time as his court hearing was postponed due to the corona and he was not given the opportunity to defend himself for his freedom.
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||nationality, other status||We were receiving complaints on restrictions of movement, with people not being able to visit and upkeep their property in other parts of the country or across the border. With these restrictions now being lifted, we expect this kind of complain to stop, but we prepared for complaints dealing with the consequences of such restrictions.|
|Croatia||Office of the Ombudswoman||Complaints||race or ethnic origin; religion or belief, other status||
Another complaint involves the difficulties in conducting a public discussion about various acts by local government while restrictions are in place. Our complaint specifically involved an act that was supposed to determine building of a sea port, and we joined in, among other, to look at this from the perspective of having minorities included in the discourse as well, including the usage of minority languages despite the difficulties brought upon by restrictions.
We also have a case involving two journalists who tried reporting from a church, where a mass was being held despite of the restriction of public gatherings. The journalists was attacked while attempting to make a report about it. This gained a lot of public attention, with public discourse (often tainted by hateful comments) on freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
|Latvia||Ombudsman||Action||health status, other status||
There is one update that we have - we have called Ministry of Education and Science to develop guidelines for the organization of graduation events for educational institutions, in compliance with the restrictive measures imposed by the dissemination of Covid-19.
The ombudsman has received questions from several school principals and parents of pupils on how to organize graduations from educational institutions in accordance with the measures set to limit the spread of Covid-19. There are even cases when parents threaten the school management that they will still come to the graduation, ignoring the set restriction of 25 people, because the parents have the right to participate in the ceremony of receiving their child's diploma.
The Ombudsman draws attention to several aspects:
First of all, the procedure for graduation from educational institutions is not regulated by any external regulatory enactment, therefore it is up to each educational institution that determines how the graduation will take place in the respective school, kindergarten or higher education institution. It is the management of the educational institution, not the individuals - the children and their parents - who determine this procedure. Consequently, the school management is also responsible for ensuring that the measures taken to limit Covid-19 are complied with.
Secondly, although the parents' wish to be present at their child's graduation is understandable, no law provides for such parental rights. It has become a tradition for parents to attend this ceremony.
Thirdly, everyone, including parents, must comply with the law - limit the spread of Covid-19, regardless of the desire to participate in their child's graduation.
These are the reasons why Ombudsman calls on the Ministry of Education and Science to develop guidelines for organizing a graduation event.
At the same time, the Ombudsman recalls the child's right to express his or her views and to be heard on matters that concern them. It is governed by both the Law on the Protection of the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Ombudsman calls for the graduates themselves and, in the case of young children, their legal representatives - parents - to be involved in the decision to organize the graduation.
The issue of organizing graduation in these new circumstances is not only a challenge for Latvian educational institutions. So far, several options have been heard on how it is possible to organize the graduation of an educational institution and at the same time follow the rules for limiting the pandemic. For example, by organizing virtual graduations - where the representatives of the educational institution address the graduates, their family members and teachers, who follow the solemn ceremony in a live video broadcast; when the graduate's name is read, his photograph appears on the screen. Face-to-face graduation, taking into account the distance - when graduates arrive in small groups in the hall or hall in a strictly defined order and time and receive a diploma; the ceremony is filmed and shown live on the website, where it can be watched by family members, because they do not participate in person. Postponement of the ceremony to the autumn, but diplomas are currently being issued or sent out. Other solutions are possible.
The role of the ombudsman is not to determine how to properly organize graduations, but to call on the responsible ministry, together with other competent authorities, to develop guidelines on how to organize graduations safely in accordance with the legal framework for pandemic control, and schools to listen to graduates.
|Serbia||Commissioner for Protection of Equality||Complaints||age, disability||In Serbia, all persons older than 65 were marked as group in the greatest risk of virus, and therefore, all persons older than 65 were officially banned to leave their homes, which meant permanent lock-down for them. They were only allowed to go outside once a week to listed supermarkets in early morning hours, before the shops were officially open for other customers, wearing protection equipment.
A number of citizens, mainly elderly and persons with disabilities who felt uncomfortable with imposed measures complained to Commissioner for Protection of Equality. After considering all aspects of permanent lock-down measure and its implications for older people, people with disabilities and individuals who need daily assistance or care, we sent several initiatives to the Government to reconsider this measure, suggesting to allow people older than 65 to go for a short walk during the period of general lock-down, when nobody was on the street, as well to give personal assistants and caregivers permit to provide help regardless the curfew time frame. However, our suggestion related to people older than 65 was accepted in the latter phase of emergency state and some of them started to feel lonely and scared because they did not go out for a long time, could not make their everyday health-walk, nor had a chance to see and hug their family.
|Serbia||Commissioner for Protection of Equality||Action||disability, age, care responsibilities||
Commissioner for Protection of Equality acted in favor of another vulnerable social group which was disproportionally affected by the curfew – persons with autism and developmental disabilities, particularly children. Since they needed to keep their daily routines in order to avoid mood swings or tantrums, we have sent another initiative - to allow children with autism or developmental disabilities and their parents to go outside anytime, as well as adult persons with their assistants/guardians. This initiative was immediately accepted and implemented on the following day.
|Kosovo||Ombudsperson Institution of Kosovo||Complaints||persons deprived of liberty, other status, nationality, socio-economic disadvantage||
From March – June 2020, the Ombudsperson Institution has received complaints on different grounds and especially from those arriving from abroad who were placed in quarantine for 14 days. The Ombudsperson opened Ex Officio investigations based on the allegations that people placed in quarantine were discriminated regarding issuing decisions for certain persons to leave the quarantine. In the same period, we received additional complaints through the NPM from the sentenced prisoners, who asked for their sentence to be suspended due to COVID-19.
Statistical data for the cases for the period mid- March to end of June are as follows:
Number of received cases: 272
Number of cases opened for investigations (which were declared admissible) 122
Number of cases initiated on own initiative ex. Officio: 13
Most of the complaints received were of the below grounds:
|Kosovo||Ombudsperson Institution of Kosovo||Complaints||health status, other status||
On 2 April 2020, the Ombudsperson addressed a letter with recommendation to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment with regard to the protection of privacy of the citizens returning from other countries, through the flights organized by the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, which were photographed in the lobby of the airport after their arrival, without obtaining their consent or disclosing the reason for the photo. Of concern was the publication of their photos on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Infrastructure, without any measure which would make it impossible to identify them.
Therefore, the Ombudsperson, in order to protect the rights of these citizens, and in particular the right to privacy and to avoid unintentional omissions in the administration of the process, recommended the ministry to duly inform the citizens for the purpose of the photograph and on the occasion of the publication of the photos, to protect the identity of the citizens.
The Ministry, after this letter with recommendation, removed the photos from their official website which would enable the identification of returned citizens and changed its practice accordingly.
|Kosovo||Ombudsperson Institution of Kosovo||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||
On 15 April 2020, the Ombudsperson Institution of the Republic of Kosovo addressed a letter with recommendation to the Ministry of Health and National Institute of Public Health, which was based on a complaint lodged from a journalist with regard to the publication of their public announcements on their official websites not in accordance with the Constitution and the Law on the Use of Languages. These announcements were being published only in Albanian Language, although by Constitution and Law, the Serbian Language is also an official language in the Republic of Kosovo. The above mentioned authorities, has immediately taken measures according to our recommendation and published all of the future announcements in both languages.
|Kosovo||Ombudsperson Institution of Kosovo||Action||other status, nationality, health status||
Some of the actions undertaken during the pandemic from the Ombudsperson Institution of Kosovo are as follows:
The Ombudsperson Institution provided comments on two constitutional review cases of the Constitutional Court on the following issues:
1) On 23 March 2020, Kosovo Government has issued the Decision No. 01/15 announcing the measures to combat and to prevent Covid-19, which included the imposition of curfews and the prohibition of public and private gatherings.
The President of the Republic of Kosovo addressed the Constitutional Court requesting its constitutional assessment of the above mentioned Decision No. 01/15, alleging that this decision violates freedom of movement and freedom of gathering. The Constitutional Court asked the Ombudsperson Institution to give comments on the President’s referral to the Constitutional Court. The Ombudsperson in his comments provided that, according to the Constitution and international instruments for human rights, which are directly applicable in the Republic of Kosovo, states have the right to limit some of the human rights. In this case, the right to life and public safety prevailed the freedom of movement and freedom of public gatherings. In principle, the Ombudsperson states the content of the decision seems to be sensible and even necessary in times of a pandemic as declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the Ombudsperson stated that there might be a problem with the necessity and proportionality of the restriction of private gatherings, as this heavily interferes with Art.8 ECHR - protection of private life.
The Constitutional Court, on 6 April 2020 published the Judgment KO54/20 ruling that the Government Decision No. 01/15 is not compatible with the Constitution and declared the decision invalid. However, the Constitutional Court postponed the execution of its judgment until 14 of April 2020, considering the seriousness of the situation caused by COVID-19, in order to leave time for the Government to adjust the measures in accordance with the Constitution. Moreover, the Court requested from the Assembly to notify the Court of all steps taken by the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo following the publication of Judgment KO54/20. A few weeks later the Constitutional Court stated that it did not receive a response from Assembly. In this regard, the Court initially emphasized that the Assembly is obliged to determine the most appropriate mechanisms and authorizations, either through the amendment of existing applicable legislation or through the adoption of a new law, so that the relevant authorities, including the Ministry of Health, respectively the Government, take necessary measures to combat and prevent COVID-19 pandemics, in accordance with the Constitution and Judgment KO54 /20.
2) On 14 April 2020, the Ministry of Health issued 38 decisions for each municipality introducing measures for each municipality. The stricter curfew was imposed and some of the municipalities were put on quarantine. A group of 30 Members of the Assembly, referred three of these decisions for constitutional review. The Constitutional Court asked for the Ombudsperson for comments. The Ombudsperson sent the comments to the Constitutional Court, referring to his previous comments on the case referred to the Court by the President, with a comparative analysis of the other national institutions working on human rights, international organizations, international human rights NGOs and their positions towards the human rights situation created by Covid-19. The Ombudsperson stated that there is a lack of parliamentary oversight on Government’s work.
The Constitutional Court, on 5 May 2020 on the above-mentioned constitutional complaint, declaring it partially unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court stated that:
The Ministry of Health has acted in accordance with the authorizations specified in the Law no. 02/L-109 on Prevention and Fighting against Infectious Diseases in the right to freedom of movement of citizens of the three municipalities. However, the Court, ruled that administrative fines and relevant sanctions, imposed by the Ministry of Health are not compatible with the Constitution and Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 of the ECHR. The Court reasoned that administrative fines imposed by these three contested Decisions are not "defined by law" and, consequently, were declared unconstitutional.
The court, on the other hand, ruled that Decision on declaring the whole municipality as “quarantine zone”, is not in accordance the Constitution and Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 of the ECHR. The Court found that the Ministry of Health has exceeded the competencies set out through Law no. 02/L-109 on Prevention and Fighting against Infectious Diseases, and consequently “interventions” in the right to freedom of movement, through the quarantine of the entire municipality are not “defined by law”. The court clarified that according to the Law no. 02/L-109 on Prevention and Fighting against Infectious Diseases the "quarantine" may be ordered by the Ministry of Health, following the recommendation of the Public Health Institution, only for natural persons who are proven or suspected to have been in direct contact with sick persons or suspected of contagious disease.
|Kosovo||Ombudsperson Institution of Kosovo||Statement||health status||
On 4 April 2020, the Ombudsperson through a public statement requested from media not to publish names of the persons in the quarantine. In this statement, the Ombudsperson emphasized that it sees with great concern publication of some news by portals which have published lists with tables containing names and surnames, as well as other information, concerning persons who have been ordered to be isolated in quarantine, due to coronavirus.
The Ombudsperson addressed portals with the request to remove this type of news so that they are not re-published by other portals. At the same time the Ombudsperson requested from media and journalists to do more for protection of personal data of persons in self-isolation, quarantine, those hospitalized and diagnosed with COVID 19, apart those given by person’s consent.
Media has playing a major role in these circumstances by placing journalists at the front line in order to disseminate accurate information to the public. Media have also their own liabilities to accomplish according to the Code of Ethics and other self-regulation documents. The Ombudsperson put emphases on the latest recommendations of the Press Council of Kosovo (PCK) for all media regarding their reporting on the situation with COVID-19.
|Kosovo||Ombudsperson Institution of Kosovo||Statement||persons deprived of liberty||
On 23 April 2020, the Ombudsperson of the Republic of Kosovo has addressed an opinion to the relevant authorities related to the requests from release of certain categories of prisoners at the time of global Coronavirus (Covid 19) pandemic.
This Opinion is based on the complaints of some prisoners who addressed the Ombudsperson with the request for early release or parole based on the situation in the country after the outbreak of Covid-19 infection cases, which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO required undertaking of severe measures from states governments in order to prevent spreading of COVID-19. Such measures have been taken by the Government of the Republic of Kosovo as well.
The Ombudsperson Institution in this opinion has reinstated the relevant international standards in the matter raised in the complaint received and called on the authorities to implement them.
|Kosovo||Ombudsperson Institution of Kosovo||Statement||sex||
On 29 April 2020, the Ombudsperson issued a press statement related to the domestic violence during Covid-19 pandemics. The institution, has been notified on the increase of reported number of domestic violence cases. According to official data obtained from Kosovo Police, in March 2019, the number of reported cases was 124, while 169 cases were reported during March 2020. It is obvious that the number of reported cases of domestic violence has increased by 36% compared to the same period last year.
While health emergency caused slowdown of courts’ functioning and postponement of non-urgent court hearings, safety of the victim and her children should remain a primary concern for law enforcement institutions as well as judicial authorities for immediate actions, prevention and protection. Accordingly, state institutions remain committed to their liabilities to provide victims with appropriate and immediate protection from the risk of violence.
The Ombudsperson drew attention to the state’s obligation towards international human rights standards, to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and ensure compensation for acts of violence, pursuant to their obligations under the European Convention on Hman Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
|Spain||Institute of Women and for Equal Opportunities||Complaints||sex, care responsibilities, socio-economic disadvantage|
Complaint regarding healthcare and age-related discrimination: A steering document for physicians at a hospital containing principles for decision-making with regard to initiating and interrupting intensive care.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||
The Complainant and his cousin, who are from the Middle East, were forced to wait for their turn outside a bank with reference to Covid-19. Two others, of African origin, also had wait outside, whereas to ”Swedes” who arrived could wait for their turn inside the bank.
The Complainant claims that old age pensioners are not fairly compensated by Stockholm public transport when they are unable to use their yearly travel card owing to the pandemic.
A mother and her child were expelled from a supermarket as, at that particular time, it was open only to people at risk, i.e. in that case, elderly.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||
The Complainant claims that there is generally a debate on social media concerning immigrants, in particular of Somali origin who have, as a group, been portrayed on social and other media as being particularly affected by the pandemic with reference to their way of life.
An 11-year old had to wait outside a super-market before being allowed to enter to do his shopping.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||health status||
A child who suffers from asthma could not attend pre-school due to the recommendations of the Public Health Authority.
University of Stockholm only proposes classes on a distance due to Covid-19 and also the so-called ”resource rooms” are closed. The resource rooms are intended as an aid to people with a disability and their closure therefore, claims the Complainant, implies that disabled suffer a particular disadvantage. Rarely are there more than one person at a time in a given resource room and there closure therefore does not bring anything in terms of social distancing.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||health status||
The Complainant claims that a headmaster has reported a pupil to the social services due to him or her being absent a great deal, whereas the absence, according to the Complainant, had to do with the child suffering from Covid-19.
An individual older than 70 years, had his or her appointment at a clinic cancelled due to the pandemic and her age. The appointment was then reinstated due to new directives concerning age and risk. The Complainant, however, wished to continue not attending the clinic, in order to maintain social distancing. As a result he or she was removed from the waiting list and asked to contact the clinic again when he or she feel it is safe to attend.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||other status||
The Complainant has had his driver’s license preparatory course delayed due to Covid-19.
|France||Defender of Rights||Action||other status||Defender of Rights published its annual report and created an annex with a synthesis of their Covid-19 related work - here (in French).|
|France||Defender of Rights||Action||socio-economic disadvantage||The Defender of Rights asked the Minister of the Economy and Finance an intervention requesting the various phone operators to allow unlimited phone calls during the lockdown, for those who have phone subscriptions at a lower cost (2€ per month), to allow them to reach health services as well as their relatives.|
|France||Defender of Rights||Statement||nationality, other status||The Defender of Rights considered that municipalities distributing masks only to permanent residents and not to secondary residents are discriminating.|
|Bulgaria||Commission for Protection against Discrimination||Complaints||other status, care responsibilities, age||
The Commission for Protection against Discrimination has filed 14 complaints related to the state of emergency. According to the specifics of the Law for Protection against Discrimination (LPD) there are currently 3 proceedings for protection against discrimination. In other 3 cases, letters were sent to eliminate irregularities in order to clear them in the initiative documents. The remaining 8 cases do not constitute files, but are complaints on various topics sent to the e-mail of the Commission, none of which can be qualified as a complaint, because they either do not contain the requisite requisites by law or are not related to the activity of the Commission, are not formed as a complaint, etc.
At the same time, the Anti-Discrimination Commission has 24 regional representatives located in regional cities throughout the country. The regional representatives are in relation to those who wish to submit an initiative document to the Commission.
Complaints can be summarized as follows:
Each of the above documents contains complaints, some qualify as a complaint, but none contains all the requisite requisites to initiate proceedings.;
|Bulgaria||Commission for Protection against Discrimination||Action||health status||
What's more with the letter ex. № 80-00-28 / 24.03.2020 addressed to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Head of the National Operational Staff for Combating Coronavirus in Bulgaria and to the Head of the Logistic Coordination Center for providing individual protective equipment and disinfectants, the Commission on anti-discrimination expressed concern about what was happening and, in order to protect human health, suggested that CPD members, employees should be used rationally to inform the population, especially in dealing with vulnerable groups.
|Ireland||Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission||Statment, Action||sex, care responsibilities, race or ethnic origin,||
COVID-19 Specific Communications:
|Malta||National Commission for the Promotion of Equality||Action||sex, care responsibilities, age, race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation,||
The National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) published the 12th issue of the newsletter Equality Matters.
This newsletter gives an overview of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the grounds of gender, family responsibilities, age, race and ethnic origin, religion or belief as welsexual orientation and gender identity. Reference is also made to teleworking; the benefits and challenges of teleworking, the role of equality bodies and the NCPE on-going work.
The newsletter can also be found on NCPE’s Facebook page. NCPE’s previous newsletters can be found on NCPE’s website page.
|Czech Republic||Public Defender of Rights||Complaints||age||A working pensioner was ordered to take a holiday in the times of the pandemic because he was seen as belonging to a group more endangered by the virus.|
|Czech Republic||Public Defender of Rights||Complaints||age||A new law specified who may refuse to receive a voucher as a reimbursement for a cancelled package holiday by a travel agency because of the pandemic. It was viewed as discriminatory by a woman who had not reached the age of 65, which was the limit above which it was possible to refuse the voucher.|
|Czech Republic||Public Defender of Rights||Complaints||health status, disability||A new law specified who may refuse to receive a voucher as a reimbursement for a cancelled package holiday by a travel agency. It was viewed as discriminatory by a man who was entitled to a disability pension. Such characteristic was not covered by the law.|
|Czech Republic||Public Defender of Rights||Complaints||sex||A man complained that a fashion store only opened the female sections as part of relaxed pandemic restrictions.|
|Czech Republic||Public Defender of Rights||Complaints||age||For some time during the pandemic, between 8 and 10 am shops were opened only to people older than 65. A complaint was filed that the elderly frequented shops at other times as well.|
|Czech Republic||Public Defender of Rights||Complaints||religion or belief||A groom-to-be complained that religious weddings could be attended by 15 people at most while civil weddings only by 10 people at most as was the limit set by the government for some time during the pandemic.|
|Czech Republic||Public Defender of Rights||Complaints||age||An organisation protecting interests of the elderly issued a petition for our consideration for people of advanced age to have their rights respected during the pandemic and urging the government not to adopt blanket measures only based on age as a number.|
|Czech Republic||Public Defender of Rights||Complaints||disability||A person with disability asked whether the exception from the obligation to wear facemasks in the public also applies to people with mental disabilities apart from people with autism spectrum disorders.|
|Czech Republic||Public Defender of Rights||Complaints||nationality||Two children attended a school situated across the border in Germany that was only a few kilometres away from their house in Czechia. When the borders closed, they were theoretically allowed to attend the school but really they could not do so since the closest open border crossing point was 1,5 hours away and they had to be accompanied by their parents when crossing the borders. The parents hence asked whether an exception should be made for such children attending schools abroad close to their homes.|
|Ireland||Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission||Statement, Action||age, disability, health status||
IHREC has issued some media work around making sure that Ireland’s COVID related ethical guidance on the use of critical care resources pays necessary regard to human rights and equality considerations.
Please see attached the clipping from the Op-Ed published in the Irish Independent.
The Commission's media release on this issue has been published at this link and issued to news desks.
The full text of the Commission’s submission to the Minister for Health and the cover letter which accompanied the submission is available at the following links:
• IHREC letter to the Minister for Health – 18 May 2020
• Observations on National Guidance on Prioritisation in Access to Critical Care in a Pandemic
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaint||age, health status||Complainant claims that by picturing them as overly fragile, Public Health Agency Sweden discriminates against people 70 years of age and above.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaint||age, health status||
According to the complainant, due to Covid-19, the regional authorities of the county of Kronoberg has decided to cancel planned doctor’s visits for people 70 years of age and above.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaint||other status||
Complainant claims to have been subject of discrimination by a train company which did not let him stand close the train door with his electric scooter as he was used to, but obliged him to sit, which, due to the risk of contagion, he did not wish to do.
Complainant puts forward that disabled people are discriminated against, are denied full participation in society and equality in terms of life conditions, in particular in the present social situation as dominated by Covid-19.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaint||age, disability||
According to the complainant, elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are hit too hard by the pandemic, considering that they are not allowed to receive visits and cannot themselves use the phone. No other means of staying in contact with their loved ones has been organised for them.
Complainant claims that Public Health Agency Sweden discriminates against people 70 years of age and above.
The complainant puts forward that all people suffering from Covid-19 are not treated equally by the health care system, as people of a certain age are not given access to all types of treatment.
|Belgium||Unia||Action||disability||Online consultation of persons with disabilities and their families
Unia conducted an online survey from 28 April – 1 June 2020 with two questionnaires: one for persons with disabilities and one for their family members (or close network). Each questionnaire was available in both Dutch and French. We asked respondents what the main issues were they encountered with regard to Covid-19, what action they expected the Government to take to tackle those issues, and examples of any good practices.
The results of the survey were analyzed and published in a report in July. The report is available on Unia's website.
|Belgium||Unia||Action||disability, age||Recommendations for local authorities
Unia wrote a report with recommendations for local authorities, based on the online survey responses as well as individual complaints. The focus was mainly on:
The report is available on Unia's website.
|Belgium||Unia||Action||disability||Participation in external task forces
Unia participated as a member of federal and regional Government task forces on vulnerable groups. Through our participation we were able to quickly highlight issues and concerns of persons with disabilities to the relevant Government authorities.
|Belgium||Unia||Action||Unia set up an internal task force on Covid-19 and human rights to coordinate all actions throughout the different departments. In October, the internal task force will finalize a report with an evaluation of the Government’s response to Covid-19 and an overview of Unia’s actions in this regard.|
|Cyprus||Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights||Statement||age, health status||Statement regarding the implementation of measures for Social Care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond (SUMMARY)
On August 11th, 2020, the Office of the Commissioner for Administration and Protection of Human Rights, in her capacity as a National Human Rights Institute and the National Preventive Mechanism, issued a Statement regarding the implementation of measures at Social Care homes, in order to prevent the spread of the virus during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
The Ombudsman noted that the restrictive measures implemented at social care homes and homes for the elderly and specifically, the restriction of visitations, unavoidably resulted in the further isolation of persons residing in such premises.
People who were mostly affected were those who were already in a state of confinement living in these settings. For these individuals, contact with the outside world and their loved ones had become even more difficult, or even impossible, throughout the implementation of these restrictive measures.
As the Ombudsman stated, the loss of interaction with other people and especially with the family, for more than two months, may have been detrimental to the very well-being of these individuals. The situation was even more difficult for people with dementia who were unable to comprehend the reason they no longer received visits from family and friends.
As the Ombudsman noted, the care of persons living in social care homes should not only be related to their physical health but the State, thought the competent authorities’ cooperation with the owners of the Social Care Homes, take into account the resident’s personal needs, their prosperity and dignity and make all possible efforts to prevent the danger of them being socially excluded.
The Ombudsman suggested that measures should be implemented in order for the residents of social care homes be engaged in creative ways (such as painting, knitting, puzzles etc.), based on individualized plans that take into account their physical and mental condition.
Furthermore, it was suggested that residents receive further psychological support by specially trained staff, especially post pandemic and also receive training/support in the use of technology (i.e. video-calling) for the purpose of socializing and avoidance of any further isolation.
The Statement was submitted to the Minister of Labor, Welfare and Social Insurance, as well as the Minister of Health, in order to take appropriate action within their competences.
Link to the Intervention(in Greek) here.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age, disability||Claims that alleged Covid-based policies restricting visits to care homes for elderly, and the protective measures taken when such visits do occur (plexi glass, care home personnel present during visit), implies a discrimination related to age and disability.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age||Claims that employer has referred to redundancy, using Covid as a pretext, to get rid of three somewhat older employees, following which a younger person who was otherwise in a comparable situation was immediately hired to carry out the work of those laid off.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age, disability||
A municipality decided to temporarily bar certain elderly people suffering from dementia from attending a weekly workshop owing to the need, it was claimed, to ensure that the people concerned did not fail, owing to their illness, to observe rules on social distancing.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age||The complainant claims that vaccinations against Covid will not be made available to people above a certain age with the pretext that older people will not respond well to the treatment. This was a false claim according to the complainant considering that every year elderly people are strongly encouraged to have a vaccination against the seasonal flu.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age, care responsibilities||
The complainant visited a toy store and was told that her children were not allowed to touch any of the toys on display for risk of transmitting Covid and that, in any event, as the children were not themselves shopping, they should stay at home and not come to the store.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||Due to the desire of a certain municipality to limit the spreading of Covid, the complainant has been deprived of his municipality-subsidised transport that normally takes him to different activities related to his disability.|
The complainant claims that being older than 70 years, contrary to those below that age, he is not entitled to compensation for loss of salary when absent from work due to Covid.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age||The complainant claims that a 68-year old teacher has been barred, contrary to younger colleagues, from teaching until further notice in order to protect his health.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||health status||A sneezing pupil has been sent home from preschool as a protective measure against Covid whereas, according to complainant, allergy and asthma was the real reason for the child’s symptoms.|
The complainant has been excluded from work opportunities due to her being over 70 years of age.
|Cyprus||Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights||Statement||disability||Own Initiative Intervention regarding the decision for compulsory use of protective masks by children with disabilities over the age of six while attending school.(summary)
The above decision provoked a lot of reactions, especially in relation to the possibility of using a mask by children with disabilities both on a practical level and in relation to their accessibility to the learning process and, consequently, to their equal access to education.
In her Own Initiative Intervention, the Commissioner presented the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, dated 21 August 2020, regarding the obligation to use of protective mask from children with disabilities, such as children with hearing, sensory or physical disabilities. developmental disorders and/or other learning difficulties, while attending school. Specifically, WHO & UNICEF recommend the use of alternative means of protection from children with disabilities and developmental disorders, like transparent masks or protective shields, so that by adapting the means of protection to the needs of these children, their right to equal access to education is guaranteed.
The Commissioner also referred to the relevant provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Articles 2, 3, 5, 7 & 24), as well as to relevant provisions of the Law on Persons with Disabilities, according to which, the right of children with disabilities to equal access to education is guaranteed.
In particular, in the Intervention was noted that the decision to use protective masks by students aged six and over did not include reasonable accommodations nor any exceptions in the case of children with disabilities, as it did not include any provision for their different treatment, in order to remove the obstacles before them for their full and equal access to the learning process.
As a result, children with disabilities were placed at a disadvantage and unfavorable position comparing to other children, because children with hearing impairments, on the one hand, are deprived of the opportunity to monitor the teacher's face (lips and expressions) during the lesson, as well as their classmates, as a result of which they would be unable to understand what they are saying, while at the same time, the use of the mask by themselves may cause additional obstacles, due to its possible friction with the hearing aids on the back of their ears.
Similarly, children with sensory and mental disabilities or other developmental disorders are more likely to not tolerate the use of the mask, while children with physical disabilities may need help to use it properly and appropriately.
Consequently, the beginning of the school year with the mandatory use of protective masks by all children without exception and without the removal of obstacles, would result in their unequal treatment compared to other children, due to the deprivation of their right to education on an equal base with other children of their age, since the mask, of themselves and/or their teachers, will hinder their access to learning on an equal base with others.
For equal treatment of children with disabilities in education, the Commissioner recommended to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth and the Ministry of Health, to reconsider the use of alternative forms of protection by children with disabilities while attending school, such as masks. with transparency or protective shields, as well as by teachers and/or their classmates, when and where needed, so that a final solution to the issue to be found before the beginning of the new school year.
Following the intervention of the Commissioner, involved Ministries implemented her abovementioned recommendations and changed the above decision, so that the use of a protective mask is not mandatory for children from six to twelve years, as well as for children over twelve years with hearing impairment or developmental disorders, while teachers, in these cases, may use a transparent plastic mask or face shield, for the purpose of facilitating lip-reading.
Link to the Intervention(in Greek) here.
|Georgia||Public Defender||Action||nationality||The Public Defender of Georgia submitted an amicus curiae brief relating to the suit concerning alleged discriminatory nature of the rules of entry into the country in the context of the pandemic. The rules applying to the citizens of foreign countries who have the right to enter the territory of Georgia, specifically the countries that are not in the list of the five relevant EU countries (Federal Republic of Germany, French Republic, Republic of Latvia, Republic of Lithuania, Republic of Estonia) and are subject to a 12-day mandatory quarantine, also raised suspicions of discrimination for the Public Defender. According to the amicus curiae brief, it is important to assess how useful it is to impose different - lighter or stricter regulations only on the basis of nationality. To this end, it is important for the court to discuss whether the different regulations, without assessing the purpose and duration of the person's arrival in Georgia, at the expense of controlling the so-called family clusters, ensure the achievement of the goals set by the Government of Georgia - to recover economy; to protect public order and health; to protect bilateral agreements (principle of reciprocity) with the above five states. (09/09/2020).|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||health status, age, disability,||Public Defender published the Statement on Preventive Measures in the Context of Novel Coronavirus Pandemic. Public Defender calls on the relevant agencies to pay special attention to the protection of the right to health of persons placed in state care institutions, strengthen the risk prevention measures and closely monitor the implementation of the relevant recommendations (15/10/2020).|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Action||disability||The Public Defender’s Office of Georgia has drawn up an information bulletin on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in and out of the Context of Novel Coronavirus Pandemic. The document reviews the efforts of national human rights institutions, various international organizations and networks in the direction of the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. The information bulletin was prepared within the framework of the CRPD Working Group operating under the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), which is currently chaired by the Deputy Public Defender of Georgia, Ekaterine Skhiladze (21/09/2020).|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Action||disability||On September 23, 2020, the Public Defender’s Office, in cooperation with the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), organized an online webinar on the theme: "On-site Monitoring of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities during COVID-19 Pandemic”. The main objective of the event was to identify and exchange information about the best practices of conducting monitoring visits to the facilities of persons with disabilities, who represent one of the most vulnerable groups in the context of the pandemic. The online meeting was an opportunity for representatives of national institutions responsible for monitoring the rights of persons with disabilities to receive information about guidelines on conducting monitoring visits during the pandemic from the representatives of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and European Disability Forum (23/09/2020).|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Action||religion or belief||On September 24, 2020, the Public Defender of Georgia and the Council of Religions of the Public Defender of Georgia presented recommendations drawn up in 2020 concerning the challenges relating to freedom of religion and religious minorities. (24/09/2020).|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Action||race or ethnic origin||On September 25, 2020, the Public Defender of Georgia and the Council of National Minorities of the Public Defender presented recommendations on the protection of the rights of national minorities and civil integration. (25/09/2020)|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Action||sexual orientation||On October 5, 2020, the Public Defender’s Office held a working meeting to discuss the growing number of systemic attacks on Tbilisi Pride office and its employees in recent months with the involvement of all parties. The meeting was attended by the Adviser to the Prime Minister for Human Rights, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office, international organizations and Tbilisi Pride (05/10/2020)|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||disability||Public Defender and Council of Europe Office in Georgia Published a Joint Statement on World Mental Health Day. (10/10/2020)|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||race or ethnic origin, religion or belief,||Tolerance Center of Public Defender of Georgia issued the Statement in Connection with 15th Anniversary of Tolerance Center, Councils of Religions and National Minorities (16/11/2020)|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||The complainant claims that him being barred from participation in a course was linked to the fact that he suffered from a long-term illness which the education provider found to put him in a group particularly vulnerable if contracting Covid, unjustly according to the complainant as he had obtained a medical certificate according to which he was not particularly vulnerable.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age||A health-care unit was closed due to Covid and when it reopened it had been transferred much further away from the complainant’s home (100 km as compared to previous 10 km). This obliged her to travel with public means of transport, thereby exposing her to infection risk to a much higher degree, which was particularly dangerous for her since she above 70 years of age.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||People with a hearing impediment are no longer allowed to bring an interpreter to medical appointments.|
The complainant has been excluded from certain work opportunities due to her being over 70 years of age and therefore considered belonging to a “risk-group” with regard to Covid.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||health status, care responsibilities||An employee was disadvantaged with reference to his many leave days related to taking care of his child who, presumably, had to stay at home due to Covid.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability, age||A union had held its annual meeting physically instead of virtually, contrary, proposedly, to other associations, thereby restricting the possibility of people with disabilities and people in risk of grave Covid-consequences to attend.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age||The complainant puts forward that, in line with the authorities’ recommendations, he had regularly ordered his groceries on-line in order to avoid physically visiting the supermarket. However, now a certain chain of supermarkets had decided that in order to profit from price reductions, customers had to do their shopping in the store and not online. Consequently, old-aged people who wished to avoid contracting Covid were disadvantaged.|
Due to restrictions purportedly aiming to limit the spread of Covid, the healthy complainant was not allowed to accompany his wife to an ultra-sound pregnancy check-up.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||Much fewer work meetings are held in real life, obliging people with hearing impediments to use video meetings which often offers a significantly reduced sound quality therefore limiting the participation of the people concerned. This, in its turn, often leads to other colleagues taking over tasks of people with an hearing impediment, leading to the redundancy of the latter.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||The complainant, who is dark-skinned, was shopping at IKEA when, in the check-out area, under the pretext of covid-protection measures, he was told to step away, thereby being separated from his family. The complainant stayed on to observe and also came back on a later point noting that no one else was separated in the way he had been.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||sex||A company in a male-dominated sector was forced to scale down as a result of Covid. Only women were laid off.|
An employer has not lived up to the requirements stipulated in regulations with regard to work environment, the complainant claims, by not adapting work tasks for pregnant women working as nurses – as the employer has a great deal to gain by keeping them on their regular tasks – thereby exposing pregnant women to potential harm in the form of increased risk of contracting Covid, which has been shown to more harmful to pregnant women than to others.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age, race or ethnic origin||As a result of Covid, a bus company has decided that only monthly cards and not prepaid cards can be used and that tickets, which must be bought before climbing the bus, can be bought only by using a certain app. Young people are normally not in a financial position as to have a monthly card¨, the complainant claims. Youths also have to board the bus in order to use its WiFi in order to be able to access the app on which to buy the ticket. Some have therefore been fined for having boarded the bus without a ticket, although the ticket was bought instantaneously. On one occasion, a dark-skinned youth had been fined whereas ethnic Swedish ones had not.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age||In order to buy a Covid-test online, an electronic ID is required. Children under the age of 13 cannot have such an ID issued for them and are therefore not able to send for the test. Public clinics also refuse to test children as they claim they lack time.|
The complainant works as a teacher for children with special needs. She suffers from a disability which puts her in the category of people who risk suffering grave consequences if contracting Covid. Whereas she has had the opportunity to work from home until now, her superior has now ordered her to work with physical presence at the school from January 2021, despite a deteriorating general situation with regard to Covid, and not from home. The superior is using Covid as a pretext to get rid of her¨, the complainant claims, owing to her creating trouble with her need for reasonable accommodation. He has also suggested that she take a leave of absence which is not possible as it would cause her a monthly loss of income with which she would not be able to cope.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age||The Public Health Agency of Sweden has recommended that children born in 2005 or later should be allowed to take part in organised sports activities despite Covid. The complainant considers this discriminatory in relation to children born in 2002-2004.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||other status||Schools in Sweden, which are most often run by municipalities under state regulations, have generally remained open throughout the pandemic. The complainants claim that teachers are exposed to differential treatment depending on in which municipality they teach due to restrictions and recommendations being respected differently in different schools and municipalities.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||sex||Due to Covid the Swedish Floor Hockey Association has adapted its rules. The Men’s elite division was allowed to continue playing, whereas the ladies were not.|
|Georgia||Public Defender||Statement||other status, health status||In response to the recently worsened epidemiological situation, the Public Defender of Georgia issued a statement which called on state authorities to answer the legitimate questions that have arisen in society relating to the fight against COVID.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||social services - disability
Children placed in foster care may not come for home visits according to the complainant due to Covid.
Elderly people with Covid are not allowed to come to hospital to receive oxygen but must be cared for at home.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||other status||The complainant claims discrimination by the government and the National Agency for Education in connection with the introduction of distance education because of Covid.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability, health status||
A child was sent home from kindergarten due to coughing etc.
A principal at school asked parents to "take home" a child with disabilities when the child's resource educator had become ill in Covid.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age, disability||
A region discriminates against the elderly and the sick, who in some cases are also susceptible to infection, by forcing them to share medical trips in a taxi with several others and being infected by Covid at risk.
The complainant claims discrimination against the elderly when ordering PCR-tests since it is not possible to order a PCR-test without an electronic bank-ID.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||other status||According to the complainant the local school does not do enough to prevent the spread of Covid.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||sex||Stockholm Concert Hall treats employees differently when granting leave due to Covid. According to the complainant there may be a connection to the fact that she is a woman.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age||According to the complainant a convenience store put up a note on the door that a maximum of 6 children at a time were welcome due to Covid.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||Due to Covid, a taxi wants a person who drools to wear an adult bib because other travelers have pointed out the drooling.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age||The complainants believe that their mother did not receive an individual assessment based on her health during the Covid pandemic, and there was a link to her old age.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||The complainant states that he has been discriminated against when he visited the city library. He asked for a chair to sit on because of his disability, but he was denied because of the Covid situation.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||sex||Due to the Covid situation, a dad was refused to accompany his partner to an ultrasound at the midwife's clinic when they will have a child in March.|
The complaints are about that there have been general assessments that elderly people who are ill in Covid should not receive hospital care without regard to an individual assessment.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||race or ethnic origin, nationality||
A man with a Spanish-sounding name got no time from the health center to get an appointment and do a test for Covid. He needed to call again the next day and could not book an appointment in advance. However, his partner was given the opportunity to book an appointment for a test the next day.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age||The Swedish Equestrian Federation has decided that people born in 2004 will be banned from competition until the end of June 2021.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age||Swedish Transport Administration has decided due to Covid to postpone all theory tests for mopeds and light motorcycles for 2 months (until March 1). According to the complainant this is a violation against all young people who have birthdays late in the year.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||A woman of Iraqi origin (Swedish citizen) was to travel via London to her native Iraq. Staff at Landvetter Airport who stood at British Airways' counter demanded that the woman present a test result on Covid in English and in paper format. After she arranged it, they still did not let her fly but insulted her because of her origin.|
|Luxembourg||Centre for Equal Treatment||Complaints||other status||Questions were raised as some people received refunds for holidays that were canceled due to Covid restrictions, while other people did not receive such refunds.|
|Luxembourg||Centre for Equal Treatment||Complaints||disability||In the beginning of the pandemic, not everything was clear regarding home schooling, thus creating even more difficult and complex situations for people with disabilities or with children with disabilities.|
|Luxembourg||Centre for Equal Treatment||Complaints||disability||There are problems in public transport as drivers are physically separated from the public. This causes problems for people that are visually impaired, as it is impossible to communicate with the driver.|
|Luxembourg||Centre for Equal Treatment||Complaints||disability||Patient at risk asked for advice about their job and possibilities to be granted a leave of absence, as the person was worried to be forced to go back to work and being exposed to the virus.|
|Luxembourg||Centre for Equal Treatment||Complaints||sexual orientation||Child born through surrogacy in the United States. The parents were told by ministry that it would not be allowed to enter the child into the country, due to Covid-Restrictions.|
|Sweden||Centre for Equal Treatment||Action||sex||As Covid-testing related forms are not gender-neutral, the CET wrote a recommendation to the ministry in charge of these forms asking them to adapt the forms.|
|Sweden||Centre for Equal Treatment||Action||health status, disability||Recommendation to our Minister of Health asking that they should clarify details regarding the obligation to wear a mask. Current laws make an exception for people with disabilities or people with health issues who have a medical certificate but these exceptions are very vague. Thus, they create a situation where people are unsure if they comply with legal requirements or not.|
|Cyprus||Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights||Action||other status||The Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights launched a publication on COVID-19 and Human Rights in which they have included their Interventions regarding COVID-19 in 2020. The publication is in Greek but it includes summaries of the Interventions in English (from page 25).|
|Luxembourg||Centre for Equal Treatment||Action||sex||As Covid-testing related forms are not gender-neutral, the CET wrote a recommendation to the ministry in charge of these forms asking them to adapt the forms.|
|Luxembourg||Centre for Equal Treatment||Action||disability||Recommendation to our Minister of Health asking that they should clarify details regarding the obligation to wear a mask. Current laws make an exception for people with disabilities or people with health issues who have a medical certificate but these exceptions are very vague. Thus, they create a situation where people are unsure if they comply with legal requirements or not.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||A region in Sweden offers telephone booking of tests for Covid at central sampling stations, but those with disabilities must contact the local health center because the sampling stations are not adapted for the disabled.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||A grocery store discriminates against people from certain other EU countries who, due to the risk of spreading the Covid infection, are only allowed to shop at certain times of the day.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||A store only allows people with face protections in the store. The person can not use a face protection for various health reasons.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||religion or belief, other status||A person who used a protective mask at work in the beginning of the pandemic received a warning for it.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||A child with a disability is home from school due to a medical certificate stating that he belongs to a risk group for Covid. The school counts it as invalid absence because the school believes that the child needs support that cannot be provided for distance education|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||A preschool teacher agreed to a request to be transferred from one preschool to another due to staff shortages. In retrospect, the person learned that the reason for this shortage was the spread of Covid among the staff. The person, who is the only one in her regular preschool with dark skin color, feels offended since she was the only one who was asked about relocation.|
A shop does not give school children access to the shop because some children do not follow the recommendations and restrictions due to Covid, entering the shop more than they should.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||A municipality has banned all physical meetings within the educational activities, including necessary meetings with the Habilitation for children with disabilities and their parents. The meetings have been replaced with video meetings that do not work for some of these children.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||race or ethnic origin||The Swedish Public Health Agency's recommendations for prioritization in vaccination against Covid entail discrimination because they prioritize undocumented and foreign-born before Swedish-born people.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||A person with a disability who cannot bend his legs properly must not sit in the front seat during taxi journeys due to Covid.|
|Slovenia||Advocate of the Principle of Equality||Action||age, socio-economic disadvantage||In December 2020 the Slovenian government lifted the restriction of movement among municipalities in four statistical regions with the best epidemiological situation. This easing was only applied to people who have the Covid-19 tracing #OstaniZdrav app installed on their mobile devices and permanently activated. The Advocate of the Principle of Equality received different complaints citing that the easing was discriminatory toward elderly people and those who do not have a smartphone. The Advocate started official assessments of the discriminatory nature of regulation.|
|Ireland||Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission||Action||age, race or ethnic origin||New research published in February 2021 by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (the Commission) has found that the Government has persistently blurred the boundary between legal requirements and public health guidance in its COVID-19 response. The study, a first of its kind evaluation of Ireland’s use of pandemic related emergency powers, also sets out significant concerns that human rights and equality scrutiny has been side-lined when emergency powers have been put in place, and makes recommendations to remedy this.
The report “Ireland’s Emergency Powers During the COVID-19 Pandemic”, further sets out that shifting relationships between the Government and NPHET, and limited opportunities for Oireachtas oversight have made it difficult to ascertain where, if at all, human rights and equality concerns are being addressed. Authored by experts from the COVID-19 Law and Human Rights Observatory in Trinity College Dublin, the study looks at the 4 statutes and more than 65 sets of regulations enacted between March and December 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report also suggests that Garda enforcement of emergency COVID powers has disproportionately affected young people, ethnic and racial minorities, Travellers and Roma. However, because An Garda Síochána has resisted repeated calls, including from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Policing Authority, to publish its data on how enforcement powers are exercised against particular groups, the Gardaí cannot be held to account, and effective human rights and equality analysis of these powers is hampered. The study has been published by the Commission as part of its mandate to keep under review the adequacy and effectiveness of law and practice in the State relating to human rights and equality.
|Kosovo||Ombudsperson||Action||health status||The Ombudsperson Institution of the Republic of Kosovo, pursuant to his constitutional and legal mandate, has submitted to responsible authorities and has published a Report (English version) with Recommendations regarding access to health care services for persons affected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Tuberculosis (TB), during the COVID-19 pandemic period in Kosovo. The main purpose of this Report was to assess provision of health care services, with a human rights-based and non-discriminatory approach, for persons with HIV / AIDS and TB in Kosovo during the COVID-19 pandemic period, in relation to universal health coverage, as an objective of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as to draw authorities’ attention to the importance of adequate treatment of persons with HIV / AIDS and TB, given the detrimental consequences that their ongoing failure to get treatment might cause.
The Report finds violations regarding fulfillment of constitutional and legal obligations towards persons infected with HIV and TB. Regarding HIV-infected persons, the Report raises concerns about the cease to function of the Center for Voluntary Counseling and Testing within Infectious Diseases Clinic as of March 2020, the failure to perform tests and disclosing outcomes of the tests only in writing for CD4 and viral load tests, as well as regarding the failure to maintain contacts of Infectious Diseases Clinic with HIV and AIDS patients during the pandemic. As for issues related to people affected by tuberculosis, the Report notes the lack of special sanitary facilities in pulmonology clinics / hospitals, lack of sufficient pulmonologists in the Pulmonology Clinic and some general hospitals, lack of case tracking in the field as well as the lack of the use of digital health technologies to support treatment of patients, in line with WHO recommendations.
Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms is essential and very important for an effective response in the prevention and treatment of HIV and tuberculosis in Kosovo. Despite the fact that Kosovo has made a lot of progress in responding to them, there are still aspects that require attention of the responsible authorities, regarding the rights of persons affected by HIV and TB, therefore the Ombudsperson, based on the analysis and case investigation, has addressed the Report with relevant recommendations to responsible authorities, which aims to impact on the improvement of the situation regarding this issue.
|Malta||National Commission for the Promotion of Equality||Action||gender||on 2nd March 2021 the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) organised an online Conference “The COVID-19 pandemic and Gender Equality” to mark International Women’s Day.
The Conference offered an opportunity to look at how the pandemic has affected various sectors, the groups most affected by this crisis, the impact of COVID-19 on the world of work and more importantly, the way forward towards a just and equal society post-pandemic.
You may find all the PowerPoint presentations in the link below:
Moreover, the NCPE has published a research study on the distribution of work in households during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings indicate that, the increase in the number of hours spent doing household tasks and childcare increased more for women than for men, while the time spent on leisure, personal care and sleep decreased more for women than it did for men. The full research study can be read here.
Children are denied care at a health center as the child's mother is unable to wear a face protection due to severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability, health status, religion or belief, other status||When recruiting, an employer asks if you are positive about taking the covid-19 vaccine before/at the start of your employment in order to protect caregivers and colleagues from becoming infected. The complainant considers this to be discriminatory against those persons who are unable to take the vaccine for health reasons or who do not wish to take it for other reasons.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||High school students in special schools (schools for students with special needs) must have physical teaching on site under the corona period even though other students have distance education.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||age||An elderly person without a bank ID, computer or mobile phone must book a vaccination by a push-button telephone. Not having such a phone, relatives have to help the person but it is impossible to get a booking on the phone.|
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||other status||The Covid-19 vaccine has not been given to the most needy, due to incorrect priorities and abuse.|
A person without a bank ID and with a telephone phobia can’t book a vaccination.
The health center does not provide the weak and sick with the help they need to order Covid tests.
|Sweden||Equality Ombudsman||Complaints||disability||A TV reporter had a face protection in a broadcast, which meant that people with a hearing loss could not access information as it was not possible to read on the lips of the reporter.|