European Court of Human Rights decides in covid-19 case against Switzerland

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on 15 March decided Switzerland has violated Article 11 of the Convention (freedom of assembly and association) in depriving an association of the the right to organise and participate in public events following the adoption of government measures to tackle COVID-19.

Summary by ECHR in its recent factsheet:

Communauté genevoise d’action syndicale (CGAS) v. Switzerland
15 March 2022

The applicant association, which declared aim was to defend the interests of workers and of its member organisations, especially in the sphere of trade-union and democratic freedoms, complained of being deprived of the right to organise and participate in public events following the adoption of government measures to tackle COVID-19.
The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the Convention, finding that the respondent State had overstepped the margin of appreciation afforded to it in the present case and that the interference complained of had not been necessary in a democratic society within the meaning of the Convention. The Court, while by no means disregarding the threat posed by COVID-19 to society and to public health, nevertheless considered, in the light of the importance of freedom of peaceful assembly in a democratic society, and in particular of the topics and values promoted by the applicant association under its constitution, the blanket nature and significant length of the ban on public events falling within the association’s sphere of activities, and the nature and severity of the possible penalties, that the interference with the enjoyment of the rights protected by Article 11 had not been proportionate to the aims pursued. The Court also observed, in particular, that the domestic courts had not conducted an effective review of the measures at issue during the relevant period.

This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention.


More information:


Addition 25 March 2022

Over Ellen Timmer

Weblog: ||| Microblog: ||| Motto: goede bedoelingen rechtvaardigen geen slechte regels
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