Monday, March 1, 2021

Guterres: “World faces a pandemic of human rights abuses”

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres

The UN secretary-general warned that the covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating inequalities, giving vaccination worldwide as an example.

In an opinion article published this Monday in the British newspaper The Guardian, António Guterres warns that “the world is facing a pandemic of human rights abuses”.

“A covid-19 deepened divisions, pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequalities, and opened up new fractures, including human rights flaws. The pandemic revealed the interconnectedness of our human family – and of the entire spectrum of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social. When any of these rights are under attack, others are at risk, ”writes the UN secretary general.

“Frontline professionals, people with disabilities, the elderly, women, girls and minorities were particularly affected. In a matter of months, progress made on gender equality has gone back decades, ”continues Guterres, adding that“ extreme poverty is increasing for the first time in decades ”.

For the Portuguese secretary-general, the “Latest moral outrage” it is the failure to ensure equity in vaccination against covid-19. “Only ten countries have administered more than 75% of all vaccines. In the meantime, more than 130 countries have not yet received a single dose ”, he highlights.

“The virus is also infecting civil and political rights, and further reducing civic space. Using the pandemic as a pretext, authorities in some countries have implemented severe security responses and emergency measures to crush dissidents, criminalize basic freedoms, silence independent journalism and restrict the activities of non-governmental organizations ”, he says.

“Human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, political activists – even health professionals – were arrested, prosecuted and subjected to intimidation and surveillance for criticizing their governments’ responses to the pandemic,” recalls Guterres, adding that restrictions related to covid-19 also “have been used to subvert electoral processes and weaken the voices of the opposition”.

Guterres further writes that “deadly misinformation has been amplified – even by those in power ”- and, at the same time, there are extremists,“ including white and neo-Nazi supremacists, who have been instrumentalizing the pandemic to grow, through social polarization and political and cultural manipulation ”.

“The pandemic has also made peace efforts more difficult, restricting the ability to conduct negotiations, exacerbating humanitarian needs and undermining progress on other human rights and conflict-related challenges.”

For all these things, the ex-Portuguese prime minister appeals: “This is not a time to neglect human rights. This is the moment when, more than ever, human rights are needed to navigate this crisis in a way that allows us to achieve the goal of achieving inclusive and sustainable development and lasting peace ”.

Filipa Mesquita Filipa Mesquita, ZAP //

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Guterres: "World faces a pandemic of human rights abuses"