COVID-19: ECOWAS Court President, others to hold virtual discussion on judicial response



The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will on Monday, hold a virtual global event, discussing challenges and response of governments across the world to the coronavirus pandemic.

The communications unit of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice (CCJ) announced this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

Justice Edward Asante, President, ECOWAS-CCJ is billed to participate in the discussion.

Asante will join other high-profile speakers in discussing the freedom of expression, privacy and related rights posed by measures adopted by various governments around the world in response to COVID-19.

The discussion would also focus on judicial response and judgment of cases in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It stated that the webinar would be organised with support of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the ECOWAS Court of Justice and Open Society Foundations.

Other speakers expected at the webinar include judges of other human rights courts, UN experts, academics, practitioners and representatives of civil societies.

Organisers of the webinar, Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the Oxford University, UNESCO and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken worldwide in response to it have had significant implications for human rights.

“They said that over the last months, several national authorities have declared states of emergency, restricting many fundamental rights including freedom of expression, access to information and privacy.

“In addition, some governments have adopted laws to fight disinformation and it is unlikely to be long before judicial authorities will have to rule on cases related to freedom of the press and freedom of expression in relation to these measures.

“The organisers said related topics for discussion may include criminal justice, privacy and the proportionality of the measures taken during the pandemic in relation to freedom of expression,’’ it stated.

The discussion will also extend to the role and function of domestic and international accountability mechanisms, including the judiciary, human rights commissions, ombudspersons, special rapporteurs and treaty bodies.

The statement added that the webinar, which would be held in English would be followed by a similar one in French on June 29.

The webinars are part of a series of webinars for judicial operators on legal challenges related to freedom of expression during to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other panellists included Judge Darian Pavli of the European Court of Human Rights, Joan Barata of the Centre for Internet and Society and Cyber Policy Centre, Stanford University Law School.

The last panellist is Jennifer Robinson, an Australian Human Rights Lawyer with Doughty Street Chambers in London. (NAN)