The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on countries to prevent violations of rights and freedoms in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Extraordinary measures taken by governments should be fair and humane.
“I am profoundly concerned by certain countries' adoption of emergency powers that are unlimited and not subject to review. In a few cases, the epidemic is being used to justify repressive changes to regular legislation, which will remain in force long after the emergency is over,” she said during an informal briefing to the Human Rights Council. “I am also concerned by steps taken to impose restrictions on media freedom and freedom of expression. Vaguely formulated actions to combat alleged "misinformation" could be applied to any criticism, and in some countries we have already seen reports of journalists being penalized for reporting a lack of masks; health-workers reprimanded for saying they lack protection; and ordinary people arrested for social media postings about the pandemic. Criticism is not a crime.”
“I urge all Governments to greatly increase access to accurate information and statistics. Transparency is paramount and can be life-saving in a health crisis. I also urge an end to any blanket Internet and telecommunication shutdowns and denials of service.”