Addressing the rights of groups in focus

The Finnish Human Rights Centre published a special section in their website dedicated to the rights of elderly and persons with disabilities, underlining that they must be respected in the context of coronavirus.

The South African Human Rights Commission will be working in partnership with UNICEF to ensure that all children are considered and included in policies and actions responding to the pandemic and have access to basic services including health, education, shelter, food and social protection. This follows a recent agreement between the Commission and UNICEF.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights issued a press release stating  its concern about recent incidents of harrassment and intimidation against journalists reporting on the pandemic. The Commission called for collaboration between government agencies and the media and highlighted the public’s right to receive accurate information, as provided for by the Constitution, which guarantees unrestricted press freedom.

Several NHRIs have addressed discrimination against groups during the pandemic. This includes the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, the Australian Human Right’s Commission in statement and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea in statement have addressed discrimination against the Chinese community in early February 2020.

Many NHRIs including the NHRC Korea, Polish Commissioner, the Defensoria of Colombia and the Defensoria in Peru have been highlighting the needs of persons with disabilities and called on government agencies to ensure that pandemic-related communications be made accessible to ensure that persons with disabilities can access information. The ICHR in Palestine in cooperation with the UN and the Ministry of Social Development has issued recommendations for the protection of persons with disabilities against the COVID-19 threat. This includes measures to encourage participation and prevent discrimination and isolation including by issuing protocols for residences identified as placed for isolation and quarantine.

In coordination with UN women and other partners, ICHR also published recommendations on the inclusion of women’s rights in the decision-making processes during the COVID-19 emergency, and measures to address gender-specific vulnerabilities, such as the potential increase in gender-based violence and the increase of economic inequalities.

The Defensoria of Peru has also stressed the need for ensuring indigenous peoples’ access to information and participation in decision-making.

Many NHRIs have also been monitoring and addressing the human rights situation of older persons during the pandemic. This includes the Mexican Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, the Procuraduría para la defensa de los Derechos Humanos del El Salvador in statement and the Defensoria del Pueblo of Panama. Also, the Defensoria of Peru has recommended specific measures and protocols to avoid exposure by older persons and other most vulnerable groups to the COVID-19 threat.

In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Malaysian Human Rights Commission called in statement for the protection of children with disabilities or in vulnerable situation during the Covid-19 pandemic. Similar efforts were conducted by:

  • Albanian People’s Advocate in statement
  • Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights in statement

The Uruguayan Institución Nacional de Derechos Humanos y la Defensoría del Pueblo issued a set of recommendations for the government in statement to address homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similar efforts were conducted by:

  • Guatemalan Procurador de los Derechos Humanos in statement.
  • Polish Commissioner for Human Rights in statement.
  • German Institute for Human Rights in statement.