The pandemic has opened new fronts in the field of individual rights and state responsibilities. University of Trento maintains an online, accessible database with cases from around the world
When and on what basis can a state be held responsible for measures taken in a pandemic? Is the declaration of a state of emergency always a necessary step in taking measures restricting personal freedoms? Who judges the discretion with which governments make decisions in a crisis situation, and how do they balance fundamental individual and community rights?
The global health emergency has also opened up new questions on the legal front; to answer questions such as these, the first database on jurisprudence born of a project coordinated by the University of Trento is now online.
Called the "COVID-19 Litigation Project," it is an open-access international database that helps judges around the world decide with speed and international feedback on the legality of government decisions.
The database brings together all litigation information on public health interventions taken in different countries around the world to counter the pandemic. It is an organized catalog of all litigation related to the adoption of public health measures at the regional, national or sub-national level.
The database is the result of an international collaboration between a group of judges and scholars, coordinated by the University of Trento with its Faculty of Law and with the financial support of the World Health Organization. Universities and research centers from Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia are participating in the project. "The health crisis has presented governments with unprecedented challenges in protecting life and security and has confronted them with the need to make choices, often tragic ones, balancing different rights and fundamental freedoms," explains Paola Iamiceli, UniTrento professor and coordinator of the international project.
"We designed and implemented the database to support especially institutional representatives and politicians, lawyers/advocates who play their role in public and private contexts, judges and those who generally deal with law. It allows them to learn from experiences that have emerged in different jurisdictions and can stimulate cross-jurisdictional dialogue to coordinate responses to health crises."
The database-which includes a dedicated channel for users to report cases-will be continuously updated to reflect developments in the law in each jurisdiction. An interactive search is made available so that users can also provide suggestions for the integration of the database, its use and usefulness.