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During COVID-19 response, emergency laws should not be imposed to silence human rights defenders & must be lifted as soon as virus threat diminishes

"CIVICUS: States should put human rights at the centre of all responses to COVID-19", 24 Mar 2020

  • During the global COVID-19 pandemic states should not impose emergency law as a pretext to restrict civic rights
  • Human rights defenders and political prisoners should be released to curb the spread
  • Governments should be transparent in responding to threats posed by COVID-19
  • CIVICUS urges states to lift emergency measures as soon as the threat of the virus diminishes

As the global community continues to take measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 and ultimately eradicate it, states should ensure that the protection of human rights are at the centre of all responses... [A]s observed with other emergencies, some governments have used crises to curtail civic freedoms and maintain restrictions - even after health threats that justified governments’ actions subsided...While the focus... will be directed towards the virus, states may increase attacks on civil society and impose restrictions... In China, activists have been harassed and intimidated for sharing information on the virus... In other parts of Asia, repressive laws are being deployed to arrest those supposedly spreading untruths about the virus... Some prisoners in Iranian jails have contracted the virus. While we commend the Iranian authorities for temporarily releasing 85,000 prisoners, human rights defenders - whose only crime was to defend the rights of women and juveniles - should also be released. Other states... such as Egypt, Vietnam and Cameroon, should follow suit... Internet restrictions and shutdowns in countries like Myanmar, India and Ethiopia are putting thousands at risk...