We address the parliaments and heads of all European states! We address civil society to act in solidarity in these demands and to support us in these demands on various levels - regional - national and international!
This petition is run by www.coview.info
We demand that the initiation or continuation of all criminal proceedings and penalties for violations of COVID-19 measures be terminated.
Many people have been respectful of the COVID 19 measures - yet there have often been arbitrary punishments and disproportionate actions by the police. People who work under poor conditions or in the informal sector or live in precarious housing conditions in many countries do not have the possibility to comply with strict regulations - their living situation makes this almost impossible.
While people with secure income have enough space in their villa, private park, or yacht to practice physical distancing, people in dramatic financial circumstances are acutely threatened by the high penalties. Numerous official acts and punishments were presumably unlawful and were also selective. In many cases, there will be an annulment by the independent courts, as some worldwide verdicts have already anticipated. It is not yet possible to predict how the numerous complaints to the courts will be decided, which call into question individual legal provisions with regard to fundamental rights.
What signal is being sent out by politics?
There are double standards!
We, therefore, CALL FOR this:
- The immediate settlement of various charges and penalties which have been imposed as a result of the COVID-19 measures - even without appeals!
- The immediate termination of all proceedings in this regard!
- The repayment of all fines paid so far!
Why is this important?
The initial situation: In the course of changes in the law or the imposition of a state of emergency, sanctions for violations of the Covid-19 measures have been tightened and the powers of public authorities have been dramatically increased. Fines, official authority and administrative force, or even imprisonment were and are at times horrendous. Sanctions are sometimes imposed selectively, making the inequality of systems visible and amplify them.
These laws and regulations, in combination with public government communication, allowed too much room for interpretation and therefore an area of discretion on the site of the authorities. Even for police officers, it was not always clear what exactly needed to be done and there was a tendency to overreact.
The penalties: Initial restrictions were usually the basis for penalties and measures taken. The most common punishment was for keeping a supposedly inadequate distance from people from outside the household in public places. Also for lack of protective masks, entering public space to visit friends or other entry prohibitions, sometimes even for meetings in general. As is often the case with controls, persons from marginalized, precarious, and otherwise discriminated against groups were more often and more strictly controlled. Racial profiling does not end in crisis, on the contrary: it is intensified.
There is legal protection, BUT: some of these "punishments" can be appealed against and, if necessary, a complaint can be made to the responsible court. However, many people find it difficult to access knowledge and how to proceed legally. In addition, significant financial and time resources have to be found by those affected in order to challenge an appeal. A large part of the world's population is denied access to the instrument "law" at all - most legal systems are built for a small, well-educated elite.
For the majority of people, who for various reasons live in precarious conditions, this is not reasonable!
It is unacceptable that the powers of the police should be extended and that legal and regulatory structures restricting fundamental rights should be created without strengthening civil society and regulatory structures to compensate for this. It would also be important to set up a separate monitoring board or similar independent bodies where police work can be monitored. This could be supplemented by independent legal institutions and advocacy support structures. Such and many other accompanying measures are missing in the current crisis!
Disproportionate: Last but not least, in most cases, there are anyway reasons to mitigate the penalty. For example, there is often good integrity given, income levels are extremely low, or there was a lack of the necessary translation services at the time of the police action (which, by the way, is the responsibility of the organs of the authorities). Furthermore, due to their living conditions, many people were not able to comply with all regulations at all times, e.g. because they are forced to live on the street, their work situation does not allow it and therefore have to work and/or live in confined conditions, their housing situation is designed for density due to lack of space and income. Penalties, therefore, affect people whose financial situation is already problematic anyway.
Although the legal interest of health to be protected is extremely serious, the acts which are supposed to have affected these people are and were mostly minor. They were in no way proportional to their subjective rights.
For reasons of general prevention, punishment often does not seem necessary because very many people - when they are made aware of the punishability of their actions - recognize the injustice of their deeds anyway and immediately give in if they are able to do so.
The situation makes it clear that the consequences of punishment are sometimes disproportionate. Both the payment of horrendously high fines and the action taken against them bring with them considerable and unreasonable consequences, into which the costs of the courts for processing and handling the case must also be added. These can also be relieved by the immediate lifting of all penalties!
People in precarious life contexts must not be put in an even more insecure situation by punishment!
All punishments must be lifted and suspended. Differentiated information and mediation work are needed instead of a restrictive punishment policy. We demand support for precarious groups instead of punishing precarious situations!
A series of case studies can be found under https://coview.info/category/watchgroup/
Reports of irregularities in the course of #covid_19 can be reported via https://coview.info/watchgroup/
Perspective/addition: We of www.coview.info encourage to start further petitions which are responding to the specific legislation and grievances. The petition has been developed from our perspective and the insights we have especially into the developments in Austria/Germany/Switzerland. We are happy to support further petitions, the text can be freely used for this purpose. We are looking forward to contact via firstname.lastname@example.org
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