SHAFAQNA- COVID-19 has been an added punishment for human rights defenders who are unjustly imprisoned, Amnesty International said.
Amnesty International went on to say that Governments who were lauded for releasing prisoners in response to COVID-19 outbreaks have excluded human rights defenders from the measures and continue to make new arrests of activists, journalists and critics, Amnesty International said today.
In a new briefing, “Daring to Stand up for Human Rights in a Pandemic”, which documents attacks on human rights defenders during the pandemic, the organization highlights the hypocrisy of governments.
“The exclusion of human rights defenders from release measures underscores the political nature of their imprisonment,” said Lisa Maracani, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Human Rights Defenders.
Maracani said that instead of making space for human rights defenders to support their efforts to address the pandemic and prepare for a just recovery, states are taking counterproductive measures to silence perceived opponents.
On 25 March 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged all states to release “every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners, and those detained for critical, dissenting views” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amnesty International has identified 131 people who speak up for human rights globally who have been harassed, prosecuted, killed or imprisoned on COVID-19-related pretexts – this figure is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.