The COVID-19 pandemic and responses to it have both exposed and exacerbated existing structural injustices relating to inequality, discrimination, marginalization and dispossession. Traditionally marginalized groups such as women, youth, indigenous peoples, migrants and ethnic minorities are facing increased vulnerability in the face of COVID-19 due to deepening of pre-existing discrimination. Meanwhile, many governments look to salvage the economy and corporations at the expense of the people.
ESCR-Net social movement members have previously identified some of these structural injustices in a Common Charter for Collective Struggle. Repression is seen as one of the common conditions facing communities and human rights defenders (HRDs) globally. In the past, governments have often used national security and public safety as a pretext for implementing dangerous measures that can be very difficult to roll back once the crisis, real or perceived, subsides.
As states scramble to address the COVID-19 pandemic, several of them have adapted measures that raise new and deepen existing concerns relating to repression of civil society in general and HRDs in particular. The widespread praise of authoritarian and highly restrictive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic as the most effective alternatives is a source of concern on the short, medium and long term.
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Growing repression in the context of COVID-19 (English, Spanish, French and Arabic)