UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres deplored Monday, February 22 that the Covid-19 epidemic is being used by certain countries, which he did not mention, to silence “dissonant voicesAnd the media.
«Brandishing the pandemic as a pretext, authorities in some countries have taken tough security measures and emergency measures to suppress dissonant voices, abolish most fundamental freedoms, silence independent media and hamper the work of non-governmental organizations», Regretted the head of the UN in his annual speech to the Human Rights Council (HRC).
Guterres spoke, in a pre-recorded video message, on the occasion of the opening of the 46th session of the CDH, which, for the first time in its history, will take place entirely online (until 23 March ) due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The UN chief devoted a large part of his speech to the pandemic, deploring that the restrictions linked to it “serve as an excuse to undermine electoral processes, weaken the voices of opponents and suppress criticism“. So, he added, “human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, activists and even medical professionals have faced arrests, prosecutions and intimidation and surveillance for criticizing the measures – or the lack thereof measures – taken to deal with the pandemic“. In addition, “access to vital information has at times been hindered, while deadly disinformation has been amplified, including by a few leaders“, He continued, without saying which ones.
Inequalities aggravated by the pandemic
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, also denounced “illegitimate restrictions on civil liberties (and) excessive use of emergency powersAs part of the epidemic. “The use of force will not end this pandemic. Sending critics to jail won’t end this pandemic», She hammered, without however mentioning countries.
The Covid-19 also “aggravated vulnerabilitiesAnd disrupted the lives of hundreds of millions of families who have lost jobs or seen their incomes plummet, Guterres said. “The pandemic has disproportionately affected women, minorities, the elderly, people with disabilities, refugees, migrants and indigenous peoples“And”extreme poverty is gaining ground», He noted. “Years of progress on gender equality have been undone“, he said.
A “moral bankruptcy” of equitable access to vaccination
The UN Secretary General also blasted “vaccine nationalism» : «the inability to ensure equitable access to vaccines represents yet another moral bankruptcy, takes us back“. In his intervention, Guterres also called for “step up the fight against the resurgence of neo-Nazism, white supremacy and racially and ethnically motivated terrorism“And to put in place a concerted action at the global level to put an end to this”serious and growing threat“. More than an internal terrorist threat, they are “become a transnational threat», He considered.
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