Coronavirus pandemic putting democracy under threat: Study

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – More than six of 10 countries around the world have adopted measures during the Covid-19 pandemic that threaten democracy or human rights, a report by democracy institute International IDEA said on Wednesday (Dec 9).

India topped the list with measures of “concern” in nine of 22 areas studied. PHOTO: AFP

The study, which examined the situation in almost all countries of the world, concluded that 61 per cent of nations “implemented restrictions that were either illegal, disproportionate, indefinite or unnecessary” in at least one area of democratic freedoms.

Among countries widely considered democracies, 43 per cent fell into this category, a figure that rose to 90 per cent for authoritarian regimes, according to the Stockholm-based intergovernmental organisation.

“It was to be expected that authoritarian regimes that had less checks and balances would use the excuse provided by the pandemic to tighten their grip,” secretary general Kevin Casas-Zamora said.

“What is more surprising is that so many democracies have adopted measures that are problematic on the standpoint of democracy and human rights.”

India, a democratic country, topped the list in that regard, with measures of “concern” in nine of 22 areas studied – including freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of the press – ahead of Algeria and Bangladesh with eight areas of concern.

They were followed by China, Egypt, Malaysia and Cuba, which each had seven.

Russia was the top European nation, with six, along with Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Jordan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

IDEA examined the various measures adopted around the world to determine if they were problematic from a democracy and human rights standpoint, regardless of effectiveness from a health perspective.

Five European Union countries were mentioned: Bulgaria (three areas of concern), Hungary (two) and Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia (one).

Among the major Western democracies, only the United States was singled out, in two areas. Israel (five) and Argentina (two) were also cited.

Among the most frequent concerns were restrictions on press freedoms in the name of fighting disinformation, excessive use of force (such as deploying troops to enforce rules, internment camps for the sick), corruption in emergency supplier contracts, and blaming migrants for the pandemic, Casas-Zamora said.

The study also praised several countries as role models for having combined effective health measures with a respect for democratic principles.

They were Iceland, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Taiwan, Uruguay, Cyprus, Japan, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by The Sen Times staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: AFP