Vol. 40 No. 2 (2021): The University of Queensland Law Journal

The Right to Liberty in a Pandemic

Rebekah McWhirter
Deakin University

Published 2021-07-29


The European Convention on Human Rights has given rise to the most extensive and influential case law of any human rights jurisdiction, and the inclusion of an express infectious diseases exception to the right to liberty suggests that its jurisprudence is likely to provide the best available guidance to states on the circumstances in which such measures may be justifiable and lawful. However, this article argues that the principles developed to date are limited in their applicability to the current crisis, and are insufficient for determining the appropriate balance between public health and the right to liberty when seeking to control the spread of a large-scale, highly infectious disease.