Supreme court dismisses human rights concerns in State’s Covid response

A single judge at the Supreme Administrative Court has dismissed the ‘urgent subpoena’ lodged by Lagos businessman Oren Avital concerning possible human rights violations in the government’s response to Covid-19 as “mere egotistical arbitrariness”.

Her ruling further suggests that the fact that he took the trouble to compile it “reveals social inadequacy”.

The gist of Judge Suzana Tavares da Silva’s ruling was that considering government measures translate into a reduction in the number of people whose health could be affected and whose lives could therefore be safeguarded… “it is difficult to fit the claimant’s position within the framework of restrictions of rights and liberties”.

For tech entrepreneur Avital the response just doesn’t cut the mustard. He sees it suggesting that an opinion of a health risk – particularly one that is not apparently backed up by any kind of expert testimony – can overrule rights enshrined in the Constitution.

“Naturally we will appeal”, he told the Resident.

This would mean his ‘urgent subpoena’ will have to go before a panel of judges at the Supreme Administrative Court, not simply one judge on his or her own.

“I believe the judges will make the new ruling based on laws and facts, not external pressure and personal opinion”, said Avital.

As we wrote earlier this month Oren Avital launched into legal action because he felt (still feels) that as a society we are “sliding away from democracy” by accepting measures brought in by politicians without any kind of due process (click here).


The paragraph referred to in this text reads in Portuguese: “Uma vez que se trata de saúde pública, atento o facto de se traduzir na redução do número de pessoas (incluindo terceiros em relação aos participantes nos ajuntamentos) afectadas na sua saúde ou até cuja vida pode assim ser salvaguardada. Frente a estes argumentos é até difícil enquadrar a posição do Requerente no quadro das restrições a direitos, liberdades e garantias e não reconduzi-la a uma mera arbitrariedade egoísta reveladora de inadaptação social.”

A literal translation would be: “Considering this is dealing with public health, attentive of the fact that it translates in the reduction of the number of people (including third parties in relation to participants in gatherings) whose health is affected or whose life could thus be safeguarded. In the face of these arguments it is difficult to fit the position of the Claimant within the framework of restrictions of rights, liberties and guarantees and not bring it back to a mere egotistical arbitrariness revealing social inadequacy”.