UN warns about Human Rights violations during the COVID fight

COVID-19 crisis has caused a humongous disruption across the globe. As subject matter experts, policymakers debate and discuss current steps taken by the government and future road to recovery; it must be interjected here that long term focus should be to prepare robust public healthcare and a sound social security system. Things are going to be much more uncertain from hereon. 

COVID pandemic has displaced millions of people, mostly the marginalized people in developing countries like India, Bangladesh, and Southeast Asian countries. The economic lockdown has forced them to leave major urban agglomeration, where they are hired for low skill jobs. These millions of people are looking at an uncertain future, with no guarantee of livelihood.

The right to livelihood is not the only human rights debate raging currently. There are other concerns, as well. We highlight some human rights concerns triggered by the COVID crisis. These concerns were listed by the UN report titled – COVID-19 and Human Rights: We are all in it together.

 Protect people’s lives and livelihood:

 Countries need to build capacity not just to protect lives but also to secure livelihoods for millions of their underprivileged and marginalized people. 

Rising discrimination and racism is a concern: 

During the COVID crisis, countries have witnessed increasing cases of discrimination and hate campaigns against ethnic minorities. State, civil society, social media companies, and other stakeholders must act together to curb fake news and targeting of minorities.

Virus-combat measures should involve people:

 Governments must make steps taken by them, the number of cases public. The idea is to include people in combat measures and enjoy their trust. The report expresses concern about the rising instances of online surveillance. 

 Warns against extreme controls and coercive measures: 

Some countries might resort to absolute control to counter the spread of the virus. Such strict control might invest a lot of power in the hands of the government. Terror laws to combat the disease might infringe on the fundamental human rights of people. 

States must act together: 

In times of such an unprecedented crisis, rich states must provide aid to low-income countries to tide over the crisis. States must not shun away international cooperation. 

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Aparajita Das

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