July 8, 2020 - On 8th May, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs on the right to physical and mental health, the right to privacy and the right to freedom of opinion and expression sent a letter to the Government of Montenegro expressing concern over the publication on the government website of the full names and addresses of individuals in mandatory self-isolation of 14 days due to coronavirus, Human Rights Action (HRA) announced today. HRA emphasized that although an additional statement of the Government was requested on certain controversial issues, it did not respond within the 60-day deadline, which expired yesterday.
“The questions of the rapporteurs addressed to the Government refer to: clarification of the legal basis in domestic law for publishing personal data of persons in self-isolation, necessity and proportionality of measures taken, measures taken to prevent dissemination of published data by private actors, measures taken to prevent the stigmatization of the persons whose data have been published and the threats that those persons may receive, measures taken to consider the opinions of persons suffering from coronavirus on the disclosure of contentious personal data, as well as the measures taken to provide effective remedies to persons whose privacy was violated," HRA stated.
According to HRA, in their letter to the Government, the UN Special Rapporteurs expressed concern that the Government's action violated the right to privacy and the right to health, contrary to Montenegro's international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Concern was also expressed over the violation of the concept of "informed consent", meaning that the patient must be informed and involved in the decision-making process about their health care.
"The UN special rapporteurs pointed out that they believe that the Law on Personal Data Protection does not provide an adequate justification to deviate from the requirements of the same law, which stipulates that personal data processing may be performed with the prior consent of the persons whose personal data are processed. They also expressed concern that the Government did not provide adequate justification that the disputed measure was suitable for achieving the stated purpose of protecting life and health and that less restrictive measures to protect the lives and health of citizens were not available. Finally, concern was expressed about the stigmatization faced by both adults and children whose identity and address had been published, and the potential threat to their safety this may have caused," HRA added.
Human Rights Action, they emphasize, sent additional information to the special rapporteurs today and asked them if they would publish their additional comment without a statement from the Government.
"Previously, on 24th March, the HRA informed the Special Rapporteurs about the public disclosure of personal data of persons subject to self-isolation measures, and invited them to contact the Government of Montenegro with a recommendation to immediately put a stop to this violation of human rights," the organization notes.