Berlin / London (dpa) – According to Amnesty International, the corona pandemic has led to a significant increase in human rights violations worldwide, affecting many millions of people.
Corona is “not only a health crisis in many countries, but also a human rights crisis,” said Markus Beeko, the organization’s head in Germany, at the presentation of Amnesty’s annual report in Berlin. Authorities would have accepted “unqualified harm or even death” for particularly vulnerable people, such as high-risk patients, health workers or migrants.
Coalition and opposition politicians have called for this trend to be stopped. “We need to be wide awake now and prevent human rights violations from growing in the shadow of the pandemic,” said SPD human rights expert Frank Schwabe.
The report sheds light on the human rights situation in 149 of the approximately 200 countries worldwide. After that, the pandemic increased inequality, discrimination and oppression in many regions. The crisis has been abused by many states to further restrict the rule of law and freedom of expression.
Amnesty accused the entire international community of failing in the fight against Corona. “The pandemic has also increased mediocrity and mendacity, selfishness and deceit among the world’s rulers,” Amnesty Secretary General Agnès Callamard writes in the report’s foreword. The world “is currently unable to cooperate effectively and equitably in a global event with major consequences.”
This mainly means the distribution of vaccines. Amnesty International criticizes that the World Health Organization (WHO) Covax initiative, which was founded for equitable care, has been undermined by Russia, the US and other countries. More than 90 countries have also imposed export restrictions on medical devices, protective equipment, pharmaceuticals and food.
The chairman of the Bundestag’s human rights commission, Gyde Jensen (FDP), assessed the Amnesty report as evidence that “the pandemic is acting like a fire accelerator.” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) and his EU colleagues should now campaign for a joint human rights conference with the US and other allies. “The goal must be explicit to strengthen civil society.”
The Greens talked about a “dismal annual balance” for Amnesty. It should be a “wake-up call for the federal government and the international community,” declared human rights politicians Margarete Bause and Kai Gehring. Leftist Bundestag member Zaklin Nastic called on the federal government to work towards fairer vaccine distribution.
Amnesty sees particularly serious grievances in several areas:
– HEALTH WORKERS would not be adequately protected against coronavirus contamination. “It is significant that, statistically, in the past year a person who worked in health care with Covid-19 died every 30 minutes,” said Amnesty Germany chief Beeko. Criticism of the working conditions led to arrests, dismissals or other punitive measures. In 42 of the 149 countries surveyed, government agencies harassed or intimidated health workers in connection with the pandemic.
– REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS: According to Amnesty, their situation deteriorated significantly during the pandemic. Also in 42 states there were reports of refugees and migrants being deported to countries where they were threatened with human rights violations. Border fences have left people stranded without basic necessities, many have been held in camps without basic sanitation, and there is often a lack of clean water and essential hygiene products.
– REPRESSION: Violence in political conflicts has increased, as have restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press. Critics of their governments’ corona policies have been specifically persecuted and repressed in many places. “Numerous states have exploited the health crisis to further lift the rule of law and limit rights,” Beeko said.
– DISCRIMINATION: A significant increase in domestic violence has been observed in many regions of the world. For many women, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) people, protection and relief offers are no longer available in the pandemic. In at least 24 countries, Amnesty International has documented “credible allegations” that people were arrested for their sexual orientation or gender identity – an increase of 16 percent from the previous year.
In the chapter on Germany, the Amnesty report criticizes, among other things, the right-wing activities of the police and other security forces and the increase in hate crime offenses. Against this background, Deputy Green Chairman Jamila Schäfer called it “shameful” that the federal government had not yet developed a comprehensive strategy to combat hate crime.