Human Rights During the Pandemic
Human Rights Measurement Initiative has published a detailed review of human rights situation across the world, excerpts are here:
In February and March 2021, surveyed human rights practitioners in 39 countries1 about the state of human rights in their country in 2020.
These countries were already part of HRMI’s annual human rights survey that has been running for the last four years. They include countries of all sizes and levels of wealth, from all regions of the world, and include different styles of government, from democracies to autocracies, and include some non-self-governing territories. The survey includes nearly every country in the Pacific Ocean region plus several countries from every other region, with Asia being the next most well-covered region after the Pacific.2
In total, 618 people shared their knowledge of the local human rights landscape.
Full report can be downloaded here: Human-Rights-During-the-Pandemic
The appearance of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, has challenged governments worldwide, and caused suffering and hardship to millions. But that hardship has not been evenly distributed. The ways governments have handled the crisis have varied enormously. This has meant that by accident of geography, different people have had very different experiences over the last 18 months.
The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI), an independent, non-profit research collective, is devoted to documenting and measuring how governments treat people. Using sophisticated measurement techniques, HRMI shines a bright light on government behaviour.
As governments have faced the pressing challenge of responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, HRMI has sought to measure the impact of their responses on human rights.
All human rights are connected
Our findings reinforce the understanding that all human rights are interconnected and interdependent in ways that are important for human flourishing. Human rights practitioners told us time and time again that the pandemic caused the violation of human rights of all kinds, not merely the right to health.
The respondents’ reports we have outlined above make many of these connections explicit. Job losses made access to food and housing more difficult. Restrictions on freedom of assembly made it more challenging for people to exercise their rights to expression and led to a drop in political participation. Enforcement of those restrictions led to an increase in arbitrary arrests and police violence.
As governments enact measures that may be justified from a public health perspective, it is vital that they consider
– and mitigate – the ripple effects of their choices.
In both Hong Kong and Malaysia, respondents reported impressions that the government was using Covid-19 measures as cover for restricting empowerment rights for other reasons.
The digital divide is a rights problem
Every child’s right to education was affected by Covid-19, as governments closed schools. Unfortunately, online schooling was a solution that only reached some people. The digital divide between those with internet access and enough devices, and those without, meant that existing inequalities were further exacerbated, and some children missed out much more than others.
Care needs to be taken to boost support so that all children can enjoy this important right.
What can you do?
Leaders and governments are motivated by numbers.
The data in this report, and on HRMI’s Rights Tracker, make it clear that there are many alternative paths through the pandemic. Governments can choose to protect people’s human rights as they respond to Covid-19, making way for a more resilient and thriving population.
HRMI is not an advocacy organisation. We are producing these data to be used by others; people like you. Please, show your leaders these numbers, and tell them what changes you want them to make.