Pandémie de COVID-19 (Coronavirus) : Les défenseurs des droits de l’homme et libertés civiques

La réponse à la pandémie a déjà affecté les défenseurs des droits de l’homme, y compris ceux qui travaillent sur l’impact des entreprises sur les droits de l’homme. Certains gouvernements, ainsi que d’autres acteurs, utilisent cette crise pour trouver des nouvelles manières de s’attaquer aux défenseurs, d’étouffer les libertés civiques et de faire adopter des mesures conservatrices. Certaines sociétés utiliseront probablement la crise pour faire pression en faveur d’une réduction des réglementations, comme cela se produit déjà en Indonésie et aux Etats Unis, ce qui pourrait entraîner davantage de tension et violence à l'avenir. Dans plusieurs pays, les défenseurs ont perdu leurs moyens de subsistance et sont en situation de confinement et, de ce fait, moins à même de soulever les préoccupations concernant les projets nuisibles des entreprises. Les entreprises technologiques peuvent également violer le droit à la vie privée dans le cadre de leur coopération avec les gouvernements pour aider à arrêter la propagation de la COVID-19.

Cette section présente les dernières nouvelles sur la façon dont la pandémie et la réponse à celle-ci affectent les défenseurs des droits de l’homme qui soulèvent des préoccupations concernant les entreprises et les libertés fondamentales, telles que la liberté d'expression, d'association et de réunion, dont ils ont besoin pour mener leurs activités. Nous suivons également les nouvelles façons de protester et de s'organiser de ces défenseurs et de ces groupes dans le contexte de la pandémie, ainsi que les nouvelles demandes en réponse à celle-ci.

Foire aux questions

  • + Who are human rights defenders, focusing on business, and why are they particularly vulnerable during the pandemic?

    Human rights defenders, focusing on business, are affected-community leaders and members, and members of human rights and environmental civil society organizations, protecting land, environment, culture and livelihoods, labour rights defenders and union leaders, protecting labour rights, anti-corruption activists that denounce corporate capture and business involvement in bribery and corruption, and other individuals and organizations, raising human rights-related concerns about business projects, promoting sustainable development, and experiencing attacks and abuse of rights for doing so.

    During COVID-19 crisis response, they have been affecting in these ways:

    1. Harassment, killings, death threats, and other attacks and intimidation of HRDs related to COVID-19, while media and governments are paying attention to the pandemic
    2. New types of attack and pressure on HRDs because of COVID-19, for example, alleged violations of the curfews, increased presence of the police and armies on the streets & loss of livelihoods of indigenous and rural land and environmental human rights defenders
    3. Increased violations of the right to privacy & increased mass surveillance
    4. Disproportionate restrictions of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association & suspension of key democratic institutions, in the name of dealing with the pandemic
    5. Violations of union rights & threats of dismissals for labour rights leaders organizing for better protection during the pandemic
    6. Increased likelihood of digital attacks as activism moves increasingly online
    7. Increased risk of attacks on HRDs after the pandemic ends as we may see an increase in rapid investment, neglecting opposition and lacking respect for the rule of law, as states and companies will try to recuperate their losses
    8. Impacts on defenders in detention are particularly severe because their cases are and will be delayed

  • + But aren't some limitations on fundamental freedoms necessary during this pandemic?

    Some limitations on fundamental freedoms may be necessary during public health crises, but this can result in human rights violations if states enact policies and measures that unjustly and disproportionately impact our rights and freedoms, extend emergency measures beyond a reasonable time period, or if they fail to adequately protect people against preventable harms related to the pandemic.

  • + Why is it important to support human rights defenders during the COVID-19 response, including those focusing on business?

    - Protecting and supporting defenders right now is crucial, as some governments and companies are using this crisis moment to further limit freedoms and silence them, paving way for irresponsible investment and business projects in the post-pandemic future;

    - This crisis shows the importance of human rights defenders, as they were the ones to first alert the states to the urgency of COVID-19 – and in many countries got silenced for it: if they were allowed to speak and do their work, this could possibly save companies and governments millions;

    - Particularly at risk – but also largely invisible in their suffering - are indigenous, land and environmental defenders, many of whom are self-sustaining agricultural workers: lockdowns are leaving them in a condition with no income, which immobilizes them and makes it impossible for them to continue their struggles against the projects that pose human rights risks. In many countries, they are denouncing they won't die of COVID-19, but rather of starvation;

    - Irresponsible companies may indirectly benefit from this weakening process of HRDs and their movements, further skewing the level playing field for those companies that are doing business in a rights-respecting manner. Financial institutions that rely on information from these stakeholders to make informed decisions about their investment cannot do so when defenders are unable to organize and speak out.

  • + Are you tracking impacts on all human rights defenders whose rights are affected by COVID-19 response?

    No, there are other great organizations and media outlets doing that, and keeping track of general limitations on civic freedoms, such as ICNL's COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker that monitors government responses that affect civic freedoms, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)'s Tracker-19 that monitors and evaluates the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on journalism, Front Line Defenders' ongoing tracking of attacks on defenders, and CIVICUS tracking civil society's responses to COVID-19 (https://www.civicus.org/index.php/covid-19), among others. We only try to capture abuses of rights, and new ways of organizing, of those defenders and groups that focus on business-related human rights impacts - and those protests and clampdowns that have a clear business dimension or a particularly strong impact on or involvement of the business community.

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