Call for 500 people to “defend democracy” for the coronavirus

Appel de 500 personnalités pour «défendre la démocratie» pendant le coronavirus

More than 500 people and organizations around the world warn against the “threat” embodied by “some governments” during the health crisis, linked to the new coronavirus and aimed at undermining democracy, in an open letter published Thursday.

The Nobel literature laureate 2015 Svetlana Alexievitch, the French writer Bernard-Henri Levy, the american actor Richard Gere, the Nobel peace prize 1983 and ex-Polish president Lech Walesa, or the former head of the american diplomacy Madeleine Albright are among the signatories of this letter, written at the initiative of the international Institute for democracy and electoral assistance (IDEA) in Stockholm.

Without attribution to country, they denounced “the authoritarian regimes (that) to take advantage of this crisis (…) to silence critics and tighten their grip policy”.

“Democracy is in danger (…). Freedom, health and dignity of individuals are at stake everywhere in the world,” they say.

For the secretary-general of the IDEA Kevin Casas-Zamora, questioned by the AFP, “just as the pandemic already has economic and social consequences, it is very likely that it already has policy implications that go very deep”.

The manager seeks, in particular, the Philippines and the emergency powers of the president Rodrigo Duterte, the Salvador and its use of detention centres, and Hungary, where the emergency powers invoked by the government had until mid-June no expiration date.

For Kevin Casas-Zamora, if the emergency powers are “a legitimate part of the arsenal” of democratic governments to cope with exceptional circumstances, their exercise must be “proportionate to the emergency.”

“A citizen fearful tolerate (these drastic measures) and used at a space more restricted in the exercise of their fundamental rights” advocates there also.

With regard to the introduction of stringent measures such as the confinement and the deprivation of certain liberties, the secretary-general considers that it is still difficult to assess exactly what strategy would have been the most effective.

“There are more chances of finding the right balance if you are able to experiment, to correct and adjust your policies”, according to him.

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