COVID-19 poses increased risks at intersection of poverty, illegal business activities & rights defense, Front Line Defenders analysis shows
Author: Jewel Joseph & Ed O’Donovan, Front Line Defenders, Published on: 21 April 2020
"Defending rights during a pandemic: Impact of Covid-19 on the safety and work of human rights defenders", 17 Apr 2020
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, governments... have begun introducing and implementing sweeping restrictions on the freedom of movement and freedom of assembly. Such draconian restrictions are necessary to confront [the]... virus...but...some governments are using this crisis to specifically target human rights defenders (HRDs)... The most recent example...came over the weekend when 15 pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong were arrested for their alleged role in “organising and participating” in demonstrations last year... Similar moves against HRDs in other countries can be expected over the coming months. States have recognised that prison conditions enable the quick spread of Covid-19 and have subsequently released large numbers of prisoners, but HRDs remain jailed... In Iran...where nearly 40% of its prison population has been released, women activists Nasrin Sotoudeh, Narges Mohammadi and Atena Daemi remain imprisoned... Journalists, bloggers and those covering the Covid-19 response have been targeted...[Since] the imposition of curfews in Colombia... six HRDs, including indigenous peoples’ rights defenders and women [HRDs], have been killed in separate attacks. Activists...instructed to stay in their homes... are targeted by armed groups who take advantage of this opportunity... Given the vulnerabilities of indigenous peoples to viruses brought into their communities.., the presence of illegal miners and loggers... is particularly worrying...