UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres lamented Monday that the pandemic is being used by some countries, which he did not name, to suppress “dissonant voices” and silence the media. “Brandishing the pandemic as a pretext, authorities in some countries have taken tough security measures and adopted emergency measures to suppress dissonant voices, abolish the most fundamental freedoms, silence independent media and hamper the work of organizations non-governmental ”, lamented the head of the UN, before the Human Rights Council in a pre-recorded video message.
“The restrictions linked to the pandemic are used as an excuse to undermine electoral processes, weaken the voices of opponents and suppress criticism,” he added. Thus, he continued, “human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, activists and even health professionals have been subject to arrests, prosecutions and intimidation and surveillance for criticizing the measures – or the lack of measures – taken to deal with the pandemic ”. In addition, “access to vital information has at times been hampered, while deadly disinformation has been amplified, including by a few leaders,” he noted, without saying which ones.
In his annual speech to the CDH, the UN chief devoted a large part to the Covid-19 pandemic, stressing that it had in particular “aggravated the vulnerabilities” and disrupted the lives of hundreds of millions of families who have lost a job or seen their income plummet. “The pandemic has disproportionately affected women, minorities, the elderly, people with disabilities, refugees, migrants and indigenous peoples” and “extreme poverty is gaining ground,” he said. he lamented. “Years of progress on gender equality have been wiped out,” he said.
The UN chief also denounced “vaccine nationalism”: “alone, ten countries have shared more than three-quarters of the doses of vaccine against Covid-19 administered to date”. “The inability to ensure equitable access to vaccines represents a new moral bankruptcy sends us back”, he ruled.
In his speech, Mr. Guterres also called for “to intensify the fight against the resurgence of neo-Nazism, white supremacy and racially and ethnically motivated terrorism” and to put in place concerted action on a global scale to put end to this “serious and growing threat”. More than a domestic terrorist threat, they are “becoming a transnational threat”, he considered.
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