Date(s) - 15/09/2021
International Day of Democracy is celebrated every year on 15 September. This year the spotlight of the day will be on the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID crisis has resulted in major social, political and legal challenges globally. As states around the world adopt emergency measures to address the crisis, it is critical that they continue to uphold the rule of law, protect and respect international standards and basic principles of legality, and the right to access justice, remedies and due process.
Concerns in many countries in the context of COVID-19 include:
- Measures to control the flow of information and crackdown on freedom of expression and press freedom against an existing background of shrinking civic space.
- Arrest, detention, prosecution or persecution of political opponents, journalists, doctors and healthcare workers, activists and others for allegedly spreading “fake news”.
- Aggressive cyber-policing and increased online surveillance.
- Postponement of elections is raising serious constitutional issues in some cases and may lead to rising tensions.
The crisis raises the question how best to counter harmful speech while protecting freedom of expression. Sweeping efforts to eliminate misinformation or disinformation can result in purposeful or unintentional censorship, which undermines trust. The most effective response is accurate, clear and evidence-based information from sources people trust.