UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns that the coronavirus epidemic with all its restrictions in daily life is becoming a human rights crisis. The unprecedented impact, which COVID-19 has on the people, has no historical model, said the top diplomat.
In his video speech on Thursday, the UN chief that the COVID-19 epidemic is “a human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis.” The most alarming moment is some countries have penalized journalists and activists sharing information about their handling of the novel virus under the pretext of protecting public health, Guardian reports.
In fact, as governments across the world enact emergency measures to keep people at home and stave off the pandemic, some are unhappy about having their missteps publicized. Others are taking advantage of the crisis to silence critics and tighten control.
Mr Guterres stressed that there is discrimination in the delivery of public services to tackle COVID-19 and there are “structural inequalities that impede access to them.”
In fact, the epidemic has also seen “disproportionate effects on certain communities”. The rise of hate speech and the targeting of vulnerable groups happen more often than ever. No need to be surprised that the risks of heavy-handed security responses undermining the health response, the UN boss warned.
According to UNSG, with “rising ethnonationalism, populism, authoritarianism and a push back against human rights in some countries, the crisis can provide a pretext to adopt repressive measures for purposes unrelated to the pandemic.”
Months of the global quarantine led to the violation of the human rights globally
In February, Guterres issued a call to action to countries, businesses and people to help renew and revive human rights across the globe, laying out a seven-point plan amid concerns about climate change, conflict and repression.
“As I said then, human rights cannot be an afterthought in times of crisis — and we now face the biggest international crisis in generations,” he said.
The recent report on human rights released on Thursday shows on how that issue must guide the response to the virus and recovery from the pandemic. Neither UNSG nor the report name any countries or parties responsible for human rights violations.
The report said governments also need to take action to mitigate the worst impacts of COVID-19 on jobs, livelihoods, access to basic services and family life.
“The message is clear: People — and their rights — must be front and center,” Guterres said.