Human rights are more important than ever in times of crisis

On the Front Line against Human Rights Violations

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Protecting people

‘Stay at home, stay safe’ is the message right now. But what if the danger in the home is worse than the danger outside? Or if you are already marginalised, mistrusted and exposed?



Thousands of women are in lock-down with violent partners made more violent through stress. They can’t get away, they can’t ring for help, their children are at home, in harm’s way. Women are dying, unable to call the police or find an escape route.

This crisis is exposing the true extent of domestic violence. It's a wake-up call to action: now and in the future.

Our Istanbul Convention equips countries to prevent domestic violence and now it’s needed more than ever.
Marceline Naudi, President of the Group of Experts against violence against women and domestic violence explains how it is now more important than ever.


Imagine being trapped with your abuser and there's no way out. For vulnerable children in families, children’s homes and other institutions that is now the harsh reality.

Or imagine you’re online, trying to while away the time in lock down, potential prey for sex offenders looking to groom children via the Internet.

Whilst parents, guardians and governments are busy coping with COVID-19, children are being put at risk. We’re calling for governments to step up protection.

Dr George Nikolaidis, chair of the Lanzarote Committee, explains what can be done.

People with disabilities

When you need help to eat, drink or bathe, how can you self-isolate or keep social distance?

People with disabilities are already more under threat than others during the pandemic. We’re joining calls for governments to bring in special measures to keep them safe.

People deprived of their liberty

Prisons, detention centres, police stations, psychiatric hospitals and migration holding centres: throughout Europe, there are people who have no choice over what happens to them because they have been deprived of their liberty.

Keeping them safe from torture and degrading conditions is important at all times, and the COVID-19 crisis is no exception.

That's why we have donated protective equipment to prisons in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia.

Professor Marcelo Aebi from Lausanne University discusses how best to cope with Coronavirus in prisons.


Prejudice and hate are an everyday reality for Europe’s ten million Roma. Marginalised and vulnerable at the best of times, Europe’s forgotten people are looking at precarious times ahead. We’re calling for governments to remember the needs of their Roma population.

Tatiana Andeljic,  who chairs the ad/hoc committee of experts on Roma and Travellers, explains the challenges the coronavirus pandemic poses.

Refugees and asylum seekers

Thousands of people seeking a life away from conflict are waiting at Europe’s borders and at special camps inside Europe to discover their fate. Already difficult situations are being made more difficult by the pandemic.

We’re helping governments with guidance and calling for special protective measures, making sure we don;t forget the human rights of this special group. Thanks to our European Refugee Passport  doctors, nurses and other qualified medical staff can more easily join the health services in their new countries .

People who use drugs

People who use drugs and those who are in contact with them are more than ever at risk during pandemics. The Pompidou Group - the Council of Europe body that focuses on drug use and illicit trafficking, has launched an online platform Save Lives, Protect People to share ways to contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect people from harm.