U.N. chief warns against repressive measures amid coronavirus crisis

By Michelle Nichols NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.N.

Reuters April 24, 2020 00:11:54 IST
U.N. chief warns against repressive measures amid coronavirus crisis

coronavirus crisis" src="https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/reuters/04-2020/24/2020-04-23T054447Z_1_LYNXNPEG3M0AA_RTROPTP_2_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-GUTERRES.jpg" alt="UN chief warns against repressive measures amid coronavirus crisis" width="300" height="225" />

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday the coronavirus could give some countries an excuse to adopt repressive measures for reasons unrelated to the pandemic as he warned that the outbreak risks becoming a human rights crisis.

Guterres released a U.N. report highlighting how human rights should guide the response and recovery to the health, social and economic crisis gripping the world. He added that while the virus does not discriminate, its impacts do.

The new coronavirus , which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19 , has so far infected some 2.57 million globally and 178,574 people have died, according to a Reuters tally. The virus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

"We see the disproportionate effects on certain communities, the rise of hate speech, the targeting of vulnerable groups, and the risks of heavy-handed security responses undermining the health response," Guterres said.

The U.N. report said migrants, refugees and internally displaced people are particularly vulnerable. It said more than 131 countries have closed their borders, with only 30 allowing exemptions for asylum-seekers.

"Against the background of rising ethno-nationalism, populism, authoritarianism and a pushback against human rights in some countries, the crisis can provide a pretext to adopt repressive measures for purposes unrelated to the pandemic," he said. "This is unacceptable."

The United Nations did not give any specific examples of such measures.

Guterres called on governments to be transparent, responsive and accountable and stressed that civic space and press freedom were "critical." He said: "The best response is one that responds proportionately to immediate threats while protecting human rights and the rule of law."

With businesses shut down and hundreds of millions of people told to stay home to avoid spreading the virus, the International Monetary Fund has predicted the world will suffer its steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The U.N. report said the pandemic was creating further hardship that "if not mitigated, will raise tension and could provoke civil unrest," adding that this could then spark a heavy-handed security response.

"In all we do, let's never forget: The threat is the virus, not people," Guterres said.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

Greek police clash with protesters in rally against mandatory vaccinations
World

Greek police clash with protesters in rally against mandatory vaccinations

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek police used teargas and water cannon to disperse people who had gathered in central Athens on Saturday to protest against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. More than 4,000 people rallied outside the Greek parliament for a third time this month to oppose mandatory inoculations for some workers, such as healthcare and nursing staff.

Two Turkish soldiers killed in attack in northern Syria
World

Two Turkish soldiers killed in attack in northern Syria

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Two Turkish soldiers were killed and two were wounded in an attack on their armoured vehicle in northern Syria, and Turkish forces immediately launched retaliatory fire, Turkey's defence ministry said on Saturday. "Our punitive fire against terrorist positions is continuing," the statement on Twitter on said. It did not specify where the attack occurred, but media reports said it was in the al-Bab area.

Brazilians take to streets again to demand Bolsonaro's impeachment
World

Brazilians take to streets again to demand Bolsonaro's impeachment

By Marcelo Rochabrun SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Protesters took to the streets in several Brazilian cities on Saturday to demand the impeachment of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, whose popularity has fallen in recent weeks amid corruption scandals against the backdrop of the pandemic. This week, news broke that Brazil's defense ministry told congressional leadership that next year's elections would not take place without amending the country's electronic voting system to include a paper trail of each vote. Bolsonaro has suggested several times without evidence that the current system is prone to fraud, allegations that Brazil's government has denied