Tuesday, 24 March 2020 15:19

Communiqué by Chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms

Chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms Mr Halil Duković addressed the citizens on the situation caused by the novel coronavirus:

"Dear citizens,

At a time when we are all facing one of the greatest scourges of modern society, which could not have bypassed us, the scourge which makes us afraid not only for ourselves but also for our loved ones, as the Chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms of the Parliament of Montenegro, and as a physician working at my doctor's surgery every day, I feel the need to contribute to a better understanding of human rights and freedoms in this rather difficult time. 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights obliges every state to provide healthcare to everybody, in accordance with its respective economic capabilities, but also every state is obliged to eradicate practices that endanger the health of all people in its territory.

Bearing in mind our current situation, where unfortunately, we have lost one human life, and where more than 20 people are diagnosed with the virus, and more that 500 citizens are under medical supervision, we have to think about our contribution or renunciation, to get past this as best we can, so that scenarios that are unfortunately seen in our environment do not happen to us. If not for us, then we have to sacrifice ourselves for our loved ones, because by endangering ourselves, we endanger our families first and then all other citizens.

The state has done everything it could, in a timely and preventative manner. The health system is operating in full capacity, so far fulfilling its mission successfully, although health care professionals are aware of the risk. We, physicians, know very well that we are the biggest risk first and foremost to our families, but still we are working and fighting for the good of all. We are assisted by members of the Police Directorate and the Army of Montenegro, who are also exposing themselves and their loved ones to certain risk.

We expect from our citizens to help us, and the biggest help we can get from them is to stay at their homes, or if they have to go out – to maintain social distance. Is that much? Is that so difficult?

Those who came from abroad have been isolated as well as all those for whom there is even the slightest chance of having been in contact with someone infected with the CoVID-19. These are healthy people who are preventively isolated in order to keep their families safe and also all other citizens. But unfortunately, individuals have shown that they are not responsible for themselves or their families, and this is increasingly happening. Maybe someone thinks that he has the right to endanger their family, but I ask you if he has the right to do this to my or any other family. If we do not all contribute to such irresponsible people being forced to behave appropriately to the situation, then know that even the health system will not be able to do much to combat the epidemic, and that the virus will continue to spread. In these difficult times, every citizen must be part of the health care system and help identify those who endanger all of us, because that is the only way we can stand out as winners. And we will rejoice when all this passes, and our families are happy and complete.

Therefore, the dilemma of violating the rights of those who are in self-isolation by publishing their names does not stand in these circumstances, because it is not shameful to be in self-isolation, having been abroad or in contact with someone who may be infected. This does not mean that they have broken the law or done anything to be ashamed of. Nor are they accused of anything - anyone can potentially be in self-isolation, we physicians have the greatest chance of doing so, and with us, our families. We need to understand that this is the only measure that protects first of all our loved ones and then everyone else. For such an end, I believe that sacrifice should be made.

Also, we should add when the self-isolation had started, so that people do not have any inconveniences when they complete the quarantine and self-isolation.

And as far as human rights are concerned, we often forget the basic principle that using our rights must not endanger the rights of others. Let us not allow anyone to compromise our rights, because the right to life is above all rights.

So let's help the healthcare system, be responsible and patient, because only together can we defeat this scourge. "