"During the state of emergency caused by COVID-19, there are serious concerns when it comes to certain member states of the Council of Europe about the balance between the introduced restrictions and human rights, as well as the maintenance of a balanced separation of powers, which is the basis of democracy. When facing new challenges, we must not derogate from respecting the principle of the rule of law, and parliaments must maintain their right to scrutinise the work of the executive branch,” emphasised Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and Chair of the Latvian delegation to PACE, on Thursday, 7 May, following a remote sitting of the Bureau and the Standing Committee of the Assembly.
During the state of emergency, the Assembly must act as the guardian of democracy, affirmed Lībiņa-Egnere, underlining that the powers of the government must not be extended at the expense of reducing the powers of parliaments and the judiciary.
"In the remotely organised debates, members of the Assembly expressed unease about the situation in Russia, Hungary, and Turkey as there are concerns that, in the current situation, the governments of these countries may have benefited from political advantage,” said Lībiņa-Egnere, referring to restrictions on citizens' freedoms, including the freedom of movement, assembly, and expression, restrictions on the right of asylum and protection of child rights, data and privacy issues, and threats to electoral standards.
According to the Chair of the Latvian delegation to PACE, during the sitting it was decided to postpone the summer session of the Assembly, which was initially set to take place in Strasbourg from 22 June to 26 June. It was also decided to urge all the Assembly committees to hold their sittings as video conferences so that their work can continue during the state of emergency as well.
Along with Lībiņa-Egnere, permanent representative of the Latvian delegation, Boriss Cilevičs, also participated in the sitting of the Bureau and the Standing Committee of PACE.
PACE is a statutory organ of the Council of Europe which deals with issues such as protecting human rights, pluralistic democracy and the rule of law, promoting the awareness and development of European cultural identity and its diversity, solving of social issues in Europe, as well as strengthening the stability of democracy by supporting political, legislative and constitutional reforms.
Saeima Press Service