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UN calls for respecting human rights in COVID-19 fight

Pandemic can be combatted only by including all people without discrimination, says UN bodies

24.03.2020 - Update : 24.03.2020
UN calls for respecting human rights in COVID-19 fight


UN experts on Tuesday called on governments to respect human rights while combatting the coronavirus pandemic.

In a joint statement by the chairs of the 10 UN Treaty Bodies, the experts called on states to ensure equal access to health care to all without any discrimination.

“Only by including all people in COVID-19 strategies can the pandemic be combatted,” said Hilary Gbedemah, chairwoman of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Experts also warned states to take extra care of vulnerable people such as “elders, people with disabilities, minorities, indigenous peoples, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, people deprived of their liberty, homeless people, and those living in poverty.”

“No one should be denied health care because of stigma, or because they belong to a group that might be marginalized,” said Gbedemah, adding states should support people financially and socially.

Those countries who are practicing comprehensive restrictions on movement should also ensure the continuity of education, the experts said.

They also warned the current restrictions “must be undertaken pursuant to a valid legal framework.”

“In countries that declare a state of emergency, such a declaration must be exceptional and temporary, strictly necessary and justified due to a threat to the life of the nation,” Gbedemah said.

“A state of emergency, or any other security measures, should be guided by human rights principles and should not, in any circumstances, be an excuse to quash dissent,” she added.

First emerged in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 spread to at least 168 countries and territories.

According to John Hopkins Coronavirus Resources Centre, more than 392,00 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with a more than 17,000 deaths.

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