COVID-19 emergency measures and their implications for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in Australia: A human rights perspective
University of Western Australia Law Review
The University of Western Australia
School of Business and Law
During the COVID-19 pandemic, and particularly prior to the availability of vaccines, the emergency measures for reducing the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks have been considered widely effective by the World Health Organization (WHO). Yet almost all these public health emergency measures infringe upon well-established human rights recognised under international law. Against this exceptionally challenging global scenario, this paper aims to analyse the human rights implications of emergency measures for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in Australia; and examine to what extent the emergency measures are consistent with Australia’s human rights obligations under international law. In achieving these aims, this paper firstly discusses the COVID-19 mitigation strategies Australian governments have implemented and the rights affected; second, it reviews whether the current limitations to the application of Australia’s international obligations including the Siracusa Principles are justified in terms of Australian Society as a whole; and finally, it analyses the disproportionate effect of these limitations on vulnerable groups and the shortfall of the Siracusa Principles as a justification tool in respect of these groups and argues for further intervention and makes recommendations to ameliorate the effects of COVID-19 emergency measures on these groups.