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…

Public Money Creation to Maintain Fundamental Human Rights during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Takondwa Chimowa, Stephen Hall, and Bernadette O’Hare As governments around the world respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with a range of policies aimed at mitigating the economic fallout, we argue that low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) should prioritize public money creation over foreign borrowing. Experience shows that the cost of servicing foreign debt diverts resources from public services and can undermine fundamental economic, social and cultural rights, such as the…

Upholding Rights Under COVID-19: The Respectful Maternity Care Charter  

R. Rima Jolivet, Charlotte E Warren, Pooja Sripad, Elena Ateva, Jewel Gausman, Kate Mitchell, Hagar Palgi Hacker, Emma Sacks, and Ana Langer The COVID-19 pandemic has strained health systems and exacerbated system deficiencies and subpopulation vulnerabilities, thus “exposing the damaging impact of inequities, in every society.”1 It has also dramatically altered maternal newborn health (MNH) care delivery; some of the efforts to curb the virus violate the rights of women,…

Contact Tracing Apps: Extra Risks for Women and Marginalized Groups

Sara L.M. Davis The COVID-19 lockdown has proven economically devastating, and to enable people to move freely and start national economies moving also, many governments are exploring digital contact tracing. Mobile phone apps that track individual movements can enable real-time health surveillance and case management. However, once it exists, that data on health and individual movements can pose real threats for everyone—particularly for women and girls, and for marginalized and…

Applying Siracusa: A Call for a General Comment on Public Health Emergencies

Nina Sun The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency—as of 23 April 2020 there were over 2.7 million cases, with over 190,000 deaths globally.[1] Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), states may restrict certain rights during public emergencies that threaten the life of the nation to the extent that they are “strictly required by the exigencies of the situation.”[2] COVID-19 can be a fatal disease…

COVID-19 Economy vs Human Rights: A Misleading Dichotomy

Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. In a rapidly evolving situation, states are trying—with different levels of commitment and effectiveness—to curb the progress of the disease. While the virus is a threat to the rights to life and health, the human rights impact of the crisis goes well beyond medical and public health concerns. The health crisis itself…

Gaol Fever: What COVID-19 Tells us about the War on Drugs

Rick Lines, Naomi Burke-Shyne, and Giada Girelli “In every situation, where a number of people are crowded together, whether in ships, hospitals, or prisons, unless the strictest attention be paid to cleanliness, and to a free ventilation or circulation of air, a fever soon or later breaks out amongst them, of a very contagious nature, and attended with very fatal effects”.[1] So begins the account of Dr James Carmichael Smyth…

COVID-19: Restricted Internet Impacts on Health in Kashmir

Adi Radhakrishnan Since December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has commanded the world’s attention and the international community, civil society, and governments have collaborated on information dissemination campaigns to mitigate its impact. Past public health emergencies have taught us that a lack of health information and the distribution of misinformation have deleterious effects in achieving prevention, detection, and treatment goals.[1] Ultimately, access to timely and accurate information is necessary to provide…

Anti-Roma Racism is Spiraling During COVID-19 Pandemic

Margareta Matache and Jacqueline Bhabha There is a new global comity taking shape. Across the world, from the markets of Wuhan to the streets of New York, Rome, Rio, and Delhi, people are sharing the experience of facing the COVID-19 pandemic as a health, social, and economic threat. But there is a darker side to this collective danger—a license to unleash racism against stigmatized groups. We have seen this at…