Human rights suffered as a result of Covid in Slovakia

Ombudswoman pointed to quarantine facilities, schools as well as maternity wards in her 2020 report.

Mária PatakyováMária Patakyová (Source: Archive of Sme)

Never before has the public defender of rights dealt with as many complaints from the people of Slovakia as in 2020, the year when the novel coronavirus pandemic first broke out.

The spreading infection and the measures imposed in an attempt to halt it increased the number of motions submitted to the office of Ombudswoman Mária Patakyová, shows her 2020 annual report that she presented to the parliament in early May.

What remained unchanged is the lack of regard most MPs seem to be paying to her work. Just like one year ago, the MPs failed to acknowledge her report. Out of the 117 MPs present, only 58 voted to acknowledge it, one did not register for voting, nine were against and 49 MPs abstained from the vote.

The parliament held the vote on May 7, 2021, just three days after they gave the green light to the cabinet of Eduard Heger and its programme statement, which among other things reads that the government will bring a “more effective and higher quality system of support and protection of human rights in Slovakia, including independent mechanisms and NGOs."

“It is evident that measures against the spread of the coronavirus interfered with human rights, but in some cases, they were beyond necessary and proportional," Patakyová said.

The most frequently complained-about issues that people addressed in their motions to the ombudswoman were linked to the obligatory state quarantine that was in place for several months in 2020, the children's right to education and to women's rights during labour and childbirth.

The office reported the second highest increase in the number of motions it has received over 18 years of existence of the institution, amounting to 3,075.

Isolate and pay

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