COVID-19: Urgent Need to Find Alternatives to Prison Sentences in Malawi

Marie Claire Van Hout In May 2020, the World Health Organization joined with other UN agencies in a call for governments to recognise the heightened vulnerability of prisoners to COVID-19 and to act urgently to reduce the risks.[1] Human rights organisations submitted letters to the Southern Africa Development Community and its Member States highlighting the severe deficits in the prison system during COVID-19, and they drew special attention to pregnant…

Paradigm Under Threat: Health and Human Rights Today

Jonathan Cohen This Viewpoint is an abridged version of the keynote address of the 15th Anniversary Symposium of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, delivered on October 15, 2019. The author thanks Dr. Chris Beyrer, Director of the CPHHR, for the invitation and permission to republish this piece. Health is both a window and a door: a window into the challenges…

Human Rights Must Be Central to the International Health Regulations

Benjamin Mason Meier, Hanna E. Huffstetler, and Roojin Habibi Global health law is essential in framing national responses to the globalized threats of infectious disease, yet the legal foundations of the global health system are now being tested as never before. The International Health Regulations (IHR), the principal international legal framework governing infectious disease control, are designed to promote global health security while respecting human rights imperatives. Revised in 2005…

Eliminating Asylum: The Effects of Trump Administration Policies

Katherine C. McKenzie, Eleanor Emery, Kathryn Hampton, and Sural Shah President Donald Trump has made abolishing most immigration a priority of his administration, and his policies have resulted in the de facto dismantling of asylum in the United States. These changes have impacted the lives and health of countless individuals attempting to seek safety from persecution. Settled asylum law is challenged regularly and uncertainty has stymied how attorneys, human rights…

Address Exacerbated Health Disparities and Risks to LGBTQ+ Individuals during COVID-19

Sara Wallach, Alex Garner, Sean Howell, Tyler Adamson, Stefan Baral, and Chris Beyrer As of August 12, 2020, there are over 20 million confirmed cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) worldwide with over 744,000 deaths.[1] Due to existing disparities in health outcomes, the consequences of this pandemic for LGBTQ+ individuals could be magnified in scope and severity.[2] Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), particularly those…

Good Health Indicators are Not Enough: Lessons from COVID-19 in Peru

Camila Gianella, Ruth Iguiñiz-Romero, María José Romero, and Jasmine Gideon Peru received international acclaim for being one of the first countries to implement a comprehensive package of measures to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government imposed a general lockdown, combined with social protection measures—mainly cash transfers and the distribution of food parcels. This was an attempt to mitigate the impact of the lockdown, in a country where…

Learning from the Past: COVID-19 and Affordable Health Treatment

Diya Uberoi Around the world, research to find a possible vaccine or treatment for the novel coronavirus has begun. The magnitude of the pandemic and its impact on the global economy makes the need for affordable medicines and treatment a pressing issue. But if we are to win the battle to contain COVID-19, then states must prioritize equitable access to affordable prevention, treatment, and care, and to do that, there…

Revisiting Restrictions of Rights After COVID-19

Leonard Rubenstein and Matthew DeCamp The Siracusa Principles have had a good run over the past 35 years.[1] The public health provisions of the principles, which contain criteria for limiting civil and political rights to advance various public purposes, have offered governments standards for acceptable restrictions on rights to reduce the spread of infectious disease. They require that restrictions be based on legitimate aim, law, and necessity; evidence-based; the least-restrictive…

Do COVID-19 Responses Imperil the Human Rights of People with Disabilities?

Gautam Gulati, Colum P. Dunne, and Brendan D. Kelly The COVID-19 pandemic is a time of unprecedented tension between the rights of the individual and those of society. Internationally, new regulations govern freedom of movement, access to healthcare and, in some countries, “intrusive biopolitics”.1 This presents the complex interface between human rights and public health. Prior to the current pandemic, the clearest examples of the tensions between the well-being of…

Leaving No-one Behind: The Human Tragedy of Children in African Prisons during COVID-19

Marie Claire Van Hout On March 25th 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged States to relieve prison congestion and reduce the prison/detainee population.[1] Accordingly,. assessing alternatives to imprisonment and implementing compassionate, conditional or early release schemes has become a critical component of the COVID-19 response and many states have started releasing prisoners (for example, Iran, Argentina, Chile, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Tunisia and Turkey).[2] UNICEF and the Alliance for…