Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Human rights: The pandemic must not be used to suppress “dissonant voices”


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Before the Human Rights Council, the head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, devoted a large part of his annual speech to the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, the issue of inequalities in the treatment of social groups and in access to vaccines was discussed.

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AFP

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres lamented Monday that the pandemic is being used by some countries, which he did not mention, 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 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 (HRC) in a pre-recorded video message.

“The restrictions linked to the pandemic serve as an excuse to undermine electoral processes, weaken the voices of opponents and suppress criticism,” he added. Thus, he added, “human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, activists, and even health professionals, have been the subject of arrests, prosecutions and intimidation. and surveillance for criticizing the measures – or 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 continued, without saying which ones.

Women and minorities more affected

In his annual speech before 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 yet another moral bankruptcy sends us back”, he ruled.

In his speech, Antonio 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 end to this “serious and growing threat”. More than a domestic terrorist threat, they are “becoming a transnational threat”, he considered.

(AFP)





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