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UN accuses countries of using coronavirus to reduce human rights

April 24, 2020 at 1:17 am

United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres at the UN Headquarters in New York, US on 24 September 2019 [Erçin Top/Anadolu Agency]

The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced on Thursday that: “It would not be acceptable for countries to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to restrict human rights.”

Guterres confirmed in a statement that: “In the context of the growing ethnic nationalism, populism, tyranny and the decline in human rights in some countries, the crisis may be an excuse to adopt repressive measures for purposes which are not related to the pandemic,” insisting that this is “unacceptable”.

“Governments must be more transparent, responsive and accountable now more than ever. Civil space and freedom of the press are essential. Civil society organisations and the private sector have a primary role to play. We must never forget that the threat lies in the virus, not in people,” added the secretary-general, who does not have binding authority.

“By respecting human rights in a time of crisis, we will develop more effective and comprehensive solutions to the emergency we are facing today and in order to rebuild the future,” Guterres explained.

The UN report on human rights and the COVID-19 pandemic indicated that focusing on how to respond to the coronavirus is essential for the future of the world, warning that this could be “for better or for worse”.

The report added: “It is necessary to work for the long term while planning our responses in the short term.”