W&L Law’s Drumbl on COVID-19 and Terrorism Should criminal legislation put in place to fight terrorism be used to fight the virus?
In a new essay on justice-360.com, Washington and Lee law professor Mark Drumbl and Sunčana Roksandić Vidlička, assistant professor of criminal law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Zagreb, examine how governments around the world are using criminal law related to anti-terrorism efforts to police individuals who intentionally spread the novel coronavirus.
The authors cite incidents in the U.S. and abroad where law enforcement are expanding surveillance through drone use and deploying military-like responses to enforce curfews and stay at home orders.
We panic and we resort to previously unheard of measures. These measures while understandable and necessary in the here and now require close scrutiny. They need to be seen as temporary derogations and not sweeping determinations. We need to be prepared for the world that will come once COVID-19 painfully sweeps through and finally exits. Else, we will be unprepared to appreciate that hasty changes to our social fabric may become permanent. We need to be mindful and vigilant that state authoritarianism does not evoke ‘protecting the public safety’ to invoke coercive measures not tailored to the pandemic but instead fueled by repressive ulterior motivations.