UN: Coronavirus Pandemic Should not be an Excuse for Human Rights Abuses
The coronavirus pandemic should not be an excuse for human rights abuses, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned today.
Emergency measures may be needed to deal with this public health crisis, but an emergency is not an excuse to neglect human rights obligations, Bachelett said at a video conference at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, the first in the history of this institution.
Emergency measures should be necessary and proportionate, she noted, and expressed deep concern at the emergency powers adopted by some countries.
In some cases, the epidemic is being used to justify repressive changes in legislation that remain in place long after the crisis has ended, Bachelett said, without mentioning specific countries. She said she was also concerned about cases of restriction on press freedom and freedom of speech, and expressed concern that measures presented as combating misinformation could be used to force critics to remain silent.
In some countries, we have already seen reports of punished journalists reporting missing masks and many other things, Bachelet added recalling that criticality is not a crime.
The former Chilean president also called on governments to significantly expand access to information and accurate statistics on the pandemic, stressing that transparency is paramount and can save people's lives in a health crisis.
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