The COVID-19 pandemic, as we have sadly experienced in recent months, is not only a global health crisis, but also a serious political crisis that threatens the future of democracy. Association against Impunity and for Transitional Justice (ATIJ) condemns the actions of authoritarian regimes around the world who have used this particular event to silence opponents, suppress freedom of opinion and breach human rights.
As often happens, people who are most affected are those who were already in trouble before and who find themselves marginalized by society, pushed aside, or even taken as scapegoats. The most vulnerable members of the population face alarming new dangers, while economic isolation devastates the very fabric of societies around the world. Repression will not help control the pandemic. Silencing freedom of speech, imprisoning peaceful dissidents, suppressing legislative control and cancelling elections indefinitely does not protect public health. On the contrary, these assaults on freedom, transparency, justice, the rule of law and democracy only aggravate the conditions for respect for human rights.
AITJ support the International Day of Democracy and believes it is an important moment that reminds us participation and inclusion of all citizens in State functions is fundamental to the proper functioning of democracy. Indeed, we believe that it is extremely important that nobody is discriminated or subjected to violence and violations of human rights by gender, religion, opinion or ethnic group.
The International Day of Democracy is celebrated around the world on 15 September. It was established through a resolution of the UN General Assembly in 2007 and it provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world. Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.
The ability to establish justice, peace and development, guarantee the protection of human rights and those who work to protect them and fight against impunity are the minimum standards that a democratic institution shall provide and cannot under any circumstances undermine the security of any of these elements. It is only in democracies that the rule of law can protect individual freedoms from state intrusion and constraint far beyond what is necessary to contain a pandemic.