COVID worsened global human rights abuses: Amnesty report

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Many governments “weaponized” the coronavirus pandemic over the past 12 months to additional repress residents’ rights, global rights group Amnesty International mentioned in its annual report, launched Wednesday. The report additionally says the virus disproportionately hit ethnic minorities, refugees and girls.

“At the global level, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated inequalities,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, instructed DW.

“Cruelly, those who gave the most were often protected the least in this pandemic. The pandemic had a devastating impact on health workers,” Luther added.

In 2020, governments had been required to showcase distinctive management to mitigate the affect of the pandemic, particularly on deprived teams. Amnesty International’s new Secretary General Agnes Callamard blasted governments for failing to tackle that position. She referred to as on leaders to reset and reboot to construct a world grounded in equality, human rights, and humanity.

“We must learn from the pandemic, and come together to work boldly and creatively so everyone is on an equal footing,” she mentioned in a press launch.

The report covers 149 international locations: Here are eight examples, in response to Amnesty, of human rights abuses.

Egypt

Under the rule of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egyptian authorities have carried out brutal repressions of freedom of expression, clamping down on narratives crucial of the federal government.

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic noticed a brand new clampdown — reprisals in opposition to journalists and well being employees who raised public well being considerations or deviated from Egypt’s official narrative on COVID-19.

Amnesty documented the arrest of a minimum of 9 well being employees on terrorism-related expenses, in addition to “spreading false news,” pending additional investigations.

“These are health workers who in Egypt expressed safety concerns and criticized the government’s handling of the pandemic and other social media platforms,” Luther mentioned.

According to Luther, the investigations are nonetheless ongoing.

“This shows, in a way, the broader reality. The authorities — within the context of the pandemic — clamped down on free speech online and offline.”

Lebanon

Over eight months after a devastating explosion on August 4, 2020, that tore by way of its capital Beirut, Lebanese authorities have did not ship investigation outcomes to the households of over 200 individuals who had been killed within the blast.

The official account attributed the blast to 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate saved for years on the port, however authorities failed to carry anybody accountable.

In its report, Amnesty International cited leaked official paperwork the place authorities in customs, the judiciary, the army and safety equipment warned successive governments of the harmful stockpile of chemical substances on the port a minimum of 10 instances previously six years.

The rights advocacy group raised considerations concerning the lack of independence and impartiality of the judicial council, which is tasked with investigating the blast.

“The judicial council also does not have jurisdiction to prosecute sitting or former officials, including the president and ministers,” Luther mentioned.

“That’s particularly of concern in this case, given the really serious and striking allegations that state bodies were responsible for the tragic events of August 4.”

Brazil

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, infamous for racist remarks about indigenous folks, has allowed the razing of the Amazon rainforest to hold on unimpeded since he took workplace in January 2019.

Under Bolsonaro, police violence escalated throughout the pandemic. Deforestation has soared whereas the police have tightened their grip on environmental activists.

Amnesty recorded a minimum of 3,181 civilians killed by the police throughout the nation between January and June final 12 months – a median of 17 deaths per day. According to the NGO Global Witness, the nation is the third most deadly on the planet for environmental and human rights activists.

In 2020, the plight of Brazil’s indigenous folks worsened each resulting from COVID and unlawful mining, wildfires and the seizure of land, whereas authorities labored to dismantle establishments monitoring and defending these areas, in response to the report.

Mexico

While home and gender-based violence surged globally throughout the pandemic, the North American nation drew an unprecedented attendance at protests on International Women’s Day in March after two grotesque killings, the report mentioned.

Amnesty cited the killing of a 25-year-old girl who was reportedly skinned and mutilated by her husband. A couple of days later in an unrelated incident, the physique of a 17-year-old woman was present in a plastic bag.

“While we are not criticizing lockdowns in and of themselves, many women were denied increased barriers of protection and support during that period,” Luther instructed DW.

In 2020, over 3,700 killings of ladies had been reported. More than 900 of these had been investigated as femicides, in response to Amnesty.

“Violence against women is an epidemic of global proportions. And it is governments’ failures to prioritize measures to combat violence that enabled this to happen,” Luther added.

Bulgaria

In its basic overview, Amnesty referred to as on governments to take pressing motion to realize gender justice and protect members of the LGBT+ neighborhood from backlash.

The report particularly talked about a homophobic assault in Bulgaria — the place over 70% of LGBT+ folks really feel compelled to cover their sexual orientation, in response to a survey carried out by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency.

Football followers reportedly wished to “cleanse” town of Plovdiv of the LGBT+ neighborhood and attacked youngsters, injuring a few of them.

Plovdiv launched a prison investigation into the assault, which was ongoing until the tip of the 12 months.

Denmark

The Scandinavian nation’s discriminatory housing legal guidelines as soon as once more got here underneath the highlight within the report, which additionally made point out of an increase in each verbal and bodily abuse focusing on minorities throughout a COVID lockdown from March to June final 12 months.

Amnesty raised considerations {that a} controversial 2018 regulation on social housing continued to be in full impact.

The regulation labels neighborhoods comprising greater than 50% of “non-Westerners” as “ghettos” and topics residents and guests to double the prison penalties for sure offenses.

While Amnesty made no point out of the Danish authorities’s plans to reform the laws, activists lately warned that the proposed reforms would slash the proportion of individuals of “non-Western” origins in social housing all the way down to 30%.

Myanmar

At least 550 civilians have been killed in Myanmar for the reason that army coup on February 1, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners stories.

But even earlier than the army overthrew the elected authorities led by Aung San Suu Kyi, armed battle had escalated within the nation. Amnesty warned of “serious human rights violations,” together with torture and different ill-treatment of civilian detainees by the hands of presidency forces focusing on minorities.

Indiscriminate airstrikes killed and injured civilians all year long, significantly placing youngsters in danger.

Last February, on Children’s Day, an artillery shell landed on a main faculty within the Rakhine State, injuring a minimum of 17 college students.

The army endangered the lives of civilians by occupying faculties and changing them to momentary bases, doubtlessly turning all faculties into targets, Amnesty wrote.

Kenya

The Kenyan police’s extreme use of pressure took heart stage within the sub-Saharan nation’s violations of rights, as monitored by the worldwide group.

In January, the police fired rounds of stay ammunition at peaceable demonstrators in Nairobi, who had been protesting the dire state of roads of their neighborhood, and killed a 17-year-old boy.

The police additionally enforced COVID curfews with deadly pressure, killing a minimum of six folks in simply 10 days, Amnesty wrote.

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