The coronavirus pandemic has considerably “weakened” rule of regulation in a number of EU international locations, a report the Civil Liberties Union for Europe launched on Tuesday reveals.

The report seemed into 14 member international locations throughout the EU and contains knowledge offered by human rights watchdogs and different nongovernmental organizations all through 2020. It discovered that fast-tracked security laws — designed to curb the speed of coronavirus infections — have both been inadvertently or purposefully utilized “as an excuse” to weaken democratic establishments.

“International locations akin to Hungary, Poland or Slovenia have simply used the pandemic to strengthen their maintain on energy and restrict criticism of the federal government,” Linda Ravo, senior adviser to the NGO, mentioned in a press release.

The report argues assaults on the media and limitations on public entry to data have gotten extra distinguished in “international locations with sturdy democratic traditions” akin to France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Stress on media corporations, disruptions on meeting and extra “abusive prosecutions” have all been attributed to new guidelines created in response to the pandemic, starting from Spain limiting media entry throughout early authorities security briefings in March 2020, to Slovenia “routinely” threatening crucial journalists — main some to self-censor their reporting to keep away from additional harassment.

The report additionally discovered Polish and Spanish activists to be on the receiving finish of extra lawsuits, as there was a big rise in so-called SLAPPs — or “strategic litigation towards public participation.”

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