NCHR reviews impacts of pandemic measures on civil, political rights

Public security officer pull up a car for inspection in an otherwise vacant street during blanket lockdown measures in 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Photo: Jordan News)
Public security officers pull up a car for inspection in an otherwise vacant street during blanket lockdown measures in 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The National Center for Human Rights (NCHR) on Wednesday released a report highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related measures, including defense orders and lockdowns, on civil and political rights.اضافة اعلان

The report covers the March-May period of 2020, during which the Kingdom saw a blanket lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. The report is based on firsthand observations, public feedback and complaints, and in-house analysis of relevant defense orders, according to NCHR Chairman of the Board of Trustees Irhail Gharaibeh.

The report recommended that the application of the Defense law and Martial Law be linked to constitutional controls that protect public rights and freedoms, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. It also said the power to order custody for violations of defense orders must be limited to the judicial authority while avoiding overcrowding in temporary detention centers.

The report indicated that despite the measures taken by the Judicial Council and the State Security Court to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the center had received complaints related to the right to a fair trial during the period covered by the report, namely the inability of some individuals to seek legal assistance, and the inability of lawyers to meet incarcerated clients. 

To that end, the NCHR called for expanding remote litigation and virtual courtrooms, applying alternatives to imprisonment and expanding the use of the legal aid system.

As for the freedom of movement and of residence, the center said it had observed a “clear discrepancy” in the extent of monitoring the implementation of the curfew in several governorates of the Kingdom, as well as in different regions within the same governorates.

The report called for amending Defense Order No. 8 by canceling the article on the “publication or re-publication or circulation of any news about the pandemic that would horrify people, or sow panic among them through the media or social media,” because, according to the center, existing legislation is sufficient and that the text of the defense order “risks expanding the scope of criminal prosecution in a way that affects freedom of expression and press freedoms.”

The report cited violations of the right to privacy, following the announcement of the first infection in the Kingdom early last year, indicating that the personal data of infected individuals were disclosed, in addition to the dissemination of official documents, photos and videos belonging to infected persons and their families. 

Accordingly, the report called for protecting the right to privacy of individuals, especially their personal data and amending legislation to ensure full protection beyond Defense Order No. 8, and demanded legal action against those violating the privacy and confidentiality of individuals. 

From March 18 to May 10 of 2020, the NCHR received 57 complaints, including 38 related to civil and political rights, and 6 related to economic, social and cultural rights, according to Petra. 

The number of complaints related to the rights of the most vulnerable groups stood at 13. The center also received 18 assistance requests, all of which are related to economic, social and cultural rights.

Read more National