After the Government brought back the quarantine regime and re-introduction more intensive restrictions on human rights and freedoms throughout the territory of the Republic of Lithuania, the Seimas Ombudsman Augustinas Normantas presented a report assessing the compliance of emergency management measures that were introduced in March this year with human rights and freedoms. In presenting the results of the investigation, the Seimas Ombudsman did not hide the fact that, among other things, most doubts were caused by the forced isolation of persons returning from foreign countries in the premises provided by municipal administrations.
“It is worth remembering the importance of the effective guarantee of human rights and freedoms, provided for in international treaties, in the countries even in special circumstances. However, in any case, in order to protect against the arbitrariness of power, any measures decided upon by countries must be based on domestic law, adopted on the basis of the need to protect the democratic order from threats and be proportionate. Moreover, they must not undermine the highest values of a democratic society – legitimacy, pluralism, tolerance and openness,” notes the Seimas Ombudsman A. Normantas.
The Seimas Ombudsman is concerned that on March 24–25 of this year, the persons were involuntary isolated in the premises provided by the Vilnius City Municipality Administration without any selection, and the doctors did not check the health condition of these persons. Furthermore, individuals were asked to sign that they were informed of the decision requiring involuntary isolation, but the text of the decision itself was not provided at the time of signing as well as the grounds for deprivation of liberty, its application and the procedure for appealing against the measures taken.
“Isolation of persons in premises provided by municipal administrations, which are not adapted to the needs of persons to be isolated and possibly inconsistent with the public health safety requirements, not assessing each case individualy, not taking into account the age, sex, health and special needs of persons to be isolated; not providing an alternative possibility to be isolated in ones own home or other place of residence as well as appropriate information about the grounds for isolation in the premises allocated by the municipal administration could be equivalent to degrading treatment prohibited under international law,” the Seimas Ombudsman states.
In the report, the Seimas Ombudsman also presents an assessment of the compulsory hospitalization and isolation of persons by a doctor’s decision, concluding that under the Law on the Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases powers authorising a doctor in special circumstances to apply compulsory hospitalization and (or) isolation (up to one month) by his/her single decision and without approval of the court, raises reasonable doubts as to the possible abuse of powers by doctors under this provision and the possible violations of human rights and freedoms in the application of such a risk management measure.
Among other things, in the report the Seimas Ombudsman came to a conclusion that due to suspension of preventive health examinations and programs, postponement of planned operations and hospitalizations as well as provision of planned consultations, diagnostic, preventive and other medical services for more than a month, during the validity of the quarantine in the country, the right to affordable health care and the highest attainable standard of health protection was not properly guaranteed.
“Any measures decided upon by countries should be based on domestic law, on the need to protect the democratic order from threats to it and should be proportionate. The requirement to observe the principle of constitutional proportionality presupposes, among other things, the requirement to establish such legal regulation that would create preconditions for sufficient individualization of restrictions on person’s rights and freedoms, assessment of each individual situation and haven taken into account all important circumstances, individualize the specific restrictive measures applicable to that person accordingly,” notes the Seimas Ombudsman A. Normantas.