UN chief Guterres: Pandemic nearing ‘human rights crisis’

UN chief Guterres: Pandemic nearing ‘human rights crisis’
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a report on how human rights must guide the response to COVID-19 and recovery from the pandemic. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 April 2020

UN chief Guterres: Pandemic nearing ‘human rights crisis’

UN chief Guterres: Pandemic nearing ‘human rights crisis’
  • Discrimination in the delivery of public services to tackle COVID-19
  • UN chief stressed that governments must be ‘transparent, responsive and accountable’

UNITED NATIONS: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the coronavirus pandemic is “a human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis.”
The UN chief said in a video message Thursday that there is discrimination in the delivery of public services to tackle COVID-19 and there are “structural inequalities that impede access to them.”
Guterres said the pandemic has also seen “disproportionate effects on certain communities, the rise of hate speech, the targeting of vulnerable groups, and the risks of heavy-handed security responses undermining the health response.”
And he warned that with “rising ethno-nationalism, populism, authoritarianism and a pushback against human rights in some countries, the crisis can provide a pretext to adopt repressive measures for purposes unrelated to the pandemic.”
The secretary-general did not name any countries or parties but stressed that governments must be “transparent, responsive and accountable,” and that press freedom, civil society organizations, the private sector and “civic space” are essential.
He stressed that any emergency measures — including states of emergency — must be “legal, proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory, have a specific focus and duration, and take the least intrusive approach possible to protect public health.”
Guterres released a report on how human rights must guide the response to COVID-19 and recovery from the pandemic.
He said: “The message is clear: People — and their rights — must be front and center.”