Legal Correspondent: Reeti Shetty
August 18, 2021: In his address to the nation on July 12th, French President Emmanuel Macron imposed stricter covid-related limitations in the country due to an increase in the number of instances involving the Delta variant. He also announced an extension of the Covid- 19 health pass, which is presently required to travel and visit most public venues in the country. The pass indicates an individual's vaccination status as well as if the individual recently had a negative Covid- 19 test. All citizens over the age of 12 are needed to have a health pass, without which they will be denied access to a theatre, museum, theme park, and so on. The extension of this pass, which was originally intended to encourage more people to get vaccinated, has aroused various concerns about citizens' human rights, and this move is judged to be in violation of them.
The primary questions that arise from the authorities' decision are: To what extent can personal preferences be ignored in order to preserve the health of the general public? Furthermore, is the government's action infringing on citizens' right to bodily autonomy, and what are the applicable human rights that citizens might assert in this situation? In light of these issues, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), to which France is a signatory, is especially significant. According to article 2(1), the state party has a positive responsibility to protect the lives of those subject to its jurisdiction. Furthermore, Article 3 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is even more specific about the protection of bodily integrity. Despite these rights, the measures undertaken may be deemed lawful since they are in accordance with the public health code, and thus the law, which allows for the declaration of a state of health emergency without violating any article of the French Constitution. Furthermore, wile the French Constitution and other international treaties safeguard these rights and liberties, they are never absolute. It must be constantly balanced against other rights and liberties, as well as the maintenance of public order and interest.
As a result, whatever emergency action is taken, it must be absolutely essential, acceptable, and proportional to the purpose, which is now the preservation of people's health in France. As a result, the extension of the health pass may be justified only if legislators and the government follow those stringent standards, namely that the measures be essential, acceptable, and proportional.
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