Human rights violations surge around the globe as COVID-19 causes chaos across 156 countries and territories

Lara Hamidi
Researcher for ImpACT International

 

With nearly 142,539 confirmed cases in 156 countries currently affected by Coronavirus COVID-19, there comes a massive price to pay in terms of how people act towards each other, especially concerning different interactions between ethnic citizens leading to a surge in racism and the human rights violations in business. COVID-19 is giving way for racism, racial profiling and xenophobia which is equally as contagious as the virus itself.

The virus has already forced citizens around the globe to create a social distance where they keep a metre apart to prevent the spread. The most vulnerable to the disease are those on low incomes, older citizens living alone, citizens with pre-existing medical conditions and those who live in isolated areas where health care is difficult to reach. It is these citizens that must be getting increased attention and easy access to aid; however, this section of the population has not been given enough consideration by the governments in charge of their wellbeing.

COVID-19 is giving way for racism, racial profiling and xenophobia which is equally as contagious as the virus itself.

Thus, with the increased panic over personal well-being comes a rise in self-regard and hostility towards the people who may have more or are privileged enough to have better access to finance and medical care. It is clear that once people start panicking there is no longer a place for rational thinking, consideration towards others is ultimately forgotten, as seen in supermarkets across the world that have become empty due to bulk buying. In terms of bulk buying, it is a clear act of self-survival in which citizens are not thinking about those who may not have enough pay to go to the shops to bulk buy, and once they do to find empty supermarkets. In this light, there is no longer any consideration for those who are most vulnerable both medically and economically.

Citizens who are barely surviving day to day financially will be hit the hardest by the panic caused in trying to contain and respond to coronavirus. Therefore, governments must recognise that unless the vulnerable in society are taken care of the virus will never be contained as people will continue to go to work instead of self-isolating to continue gaining money to survive. The poorest in society will be forced to go on with their lives when what everyone should be doing is self-isolating. At this stage self-isolation and care has become a privilege in which the more economically stable can afford to be safe at home and take care of their families, something that the financially vulnerable are unable to do. This should not be the case, humans all over the world regardless of their income should at this time feel that they are able to keep themselves as safe as possible.

Many of the travel restrictions implemented by countries have directly violated international human rights access to freedom of movement and have resulted in the prevention of imported supplied to get into affected areas additionally resulting in the slowdown of public health response due to a lack in medical supplies and a rise in the stigmatisation of entire ethnicities and countries. The travel restrictions are seen in the United States where 26 countries in Europe have been added to the list of travel bans. With these travel restrictions comes the rise of racial profiling according the travel bans list.

23-year-old Singaporean student in London is just one of the examples of extreme racism that has emerged with the rise of COVID-19. On the 24th of February, he was racially abused and attacked by a group of 5 people, who were referring to the 23-year-old as ‘coronavirus’. This attack resulted in severe facial injuries and fractures, showing how dangerous race issues related to corona can be. This is one case that shows that the rights of humans are constantly in danger since the rise of the virus, people are targeting minority groups because of the colour of their skin and race, subjecting them to abuse in multiple forms, it could be physical or verbal. The racial cases related to COVID-19 are deeply disturbing as in a time where people need to stand united to fight the issue, panic is causing people to turn on the vulnerable. There should be no place for such acts of hatred, governments must condemn these acts to combat the underlying human rights issues to do with the virus. What many are unaware of are the human rights violations, instead are only focused on the health issues, wholly disregarding the people are suffering in public or in their workplace and even financially.

 

Suggestions to improving the rights of all humans in countries affected by COVID-19

 

  • There must be a call for all governments across the world to place human rights issues at the front of the fight against COVID-19.
  • There needs to be cooperation between all countries in which they can actively share information on good practices so that all states can feel supported and tackle the issues together.
  • Governments need to be planning for any situation and unintended consequences including business that should be ready to adopt a more flexible arrangement towards their employees.
  • At this moment, more than ever, there should be an increase in support and international cooperation amongst people especially support for the most vulnerable people in the population. As COVID-19 has shocked the world, it has surely tested our societies, governments, hospitals and citizens re still learning and adapting thus there needs to be increased awareness and acceptance amongst communities.
  • To productively combat the vicious outbreak there needs to be insurance to all citizens from their governments that everyone has access to health care. The health care that is provided should ensure that all citizens will get treatment regardless of their financial situation.
  • Urging all governments who have been affected by the disease to address the increasing incidents of xenophobia and stigmatisation by taking the necessary steps to ensure false information is not spread and all citizens are given all relevant information they need to understand the situation.
  • Lockdowns, quarantines and other measures to contain the virus should always be carried out in strict orders to human rights standards.
  • All health measures should be implemented taking into consideration full respect for human rights and the freedom of the citizens, health organisation should not be making decisions based on racial assumptions.