Human Rights 

COVID-19 should not herald rollback in rights for people with autism: UN chief

António Guterres’s appeal came in his message for World Autism Awareness Day, observed annually on 2 April. People with autism have a right to education and employment on an equal basis with others. We must ensure that a long disruption caused by the #COVID19 crisis does not result in rollbacks of the rights they have worked so hard to advance. — António Guterres (@antonioguterres) April 2, 2020 This year’s commemoration is being held as countries grapple with the pandemic, which is placing persons with autism at disproportionate risk of the…

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Human Rights 

Economic sanctions should be lifted to prevent hunger crises in countries hit by COVID-19 – UN rights expert

The continued imposition of such measures on Syria, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba and Zimbabwe in particular, severely undermines the fundamental right to sufficient and adequate food,Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, stressed. History has shown that unilateral economic sanctions generally have dramatic and detrimental impacts on economic, social and cultural rights, she recalled. “As a result, the wellbeing of the civilian populations becomes severely compromised.” The Special Rapporteur also urged the international community to pay particular attention to the situation of civilians trapped in conflict settings,…

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Human Rights 

COVID-19 stoking xenophobia, hate and exclusion, minority rights expert warns

“COVID-19 is not just a health issue; it can also be a virus that exacerbates xenophobia, hate and exclusion,” said Fernand de Varennes, the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, in a statement issued on Monday. He reported that politicians and groups are exploiting fears surrounding the disease to scapegoat certain communities, leading to a rise in violence against them. This has included physical attacks against Chinese and other Asians, hate speech blaming Roma and Hispanics for the spread of the virus, and calls by some political leaders for migrants…

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Human Rights 

Human rights must be maintained in beating back the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘without exception’ – UN experts

“Everyone, without exception, has the right to life-saving interventions and this responsibility lies with the government”, said the group of 42 experts – representing nearly every independent rights specialist working within the Human Rights Council-mandated system –  maintaining that the scarcity of resources or insurance schemes should never justify discrimination against certain groups of patients. “Everybody has the right to health”, they declared.  They cited people with disabilities, older persons, minority communities, the internally displaced and those living in extreme poverty, as well as people in detention, the homeless, refugees…

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Human Rights 

UN rights chief urges quick action by governments to prevent devastating impact of COVID-19 in places of detention

“In many countries, detention facilities are overcrowded, in some cases dangerously so,” Ms. Bachelet said, making physical distancing and self-isolation practically impossible. People are often held in unhygienic conditions. Health services are inadequate – or non-existent – and the virus “risks rampaging” through these vulnerable populations. As Governments make tough decisions, she urged them not to forget those behind bars, or confined in such places as mental health facilities, nursing homes and orphanages. “The consequences of neglecting them are potentially catastrophic,” the High Commissioner said. Governments must work quickly to…

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Human Rights 

Moving forward requires confronting slavery’s ‘racist legacy’: UN chief

“Racism is the reason why outside Africa, people of African descent are often among the last in line for health care, education, justice and opportunities of all kinds”, he said. “We need to raise our voices against all expressions of racism and instances of racist behaviour. We urgently need to dismantle racist structures and reform racist institutions. We can only move forward by confronting the racist legacy of slavery together”. The transatlantic slave trade is one of the biggest crimes in the history of humankind. And we continue to live…

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Human Rights 

Ease sanctions against countries fighting COVID-19: UN human rights chief

Michelle Bachelet said humanitarian exemptions to sanctions measures should be authorized for essential medical equipment and supplies to avoid the collapse of any national healthcare system.  “At this crucial time, both for global public health reasons, and to support the rights and lives of millions of people in these countries, sectoral sanctions should be eased or suspended. In a context of global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us”, she stated.  COVID-19 has affected nearly 190 countries, with more than 330,000 cases reported globally as of Monday, according to data from…

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New global platform to keep information networks ‘safer, stronger’ throughout COVID-19 pandemic

“The new platform will assist governments and the private sector in ensuring that networks are kept resilient and telecommunication services are available to all”, said ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao. Telecommunication networks have never before been as vital to “our health and safety, and to keep our economy and society working” as they are during the current crisis, where millions are being encouraged to stay put at home, the ITU chief maintained. He has asked instructed his team to “leverage without any delay” the new platform in aid of existing networks…

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Human Rights 

Preventing discrimination against people with disabilities in COVID-19 response

Lindsay Lee, a WHO Technical Officer who works on issues related to people with disabilities, was speaking during a Q&A the UN health agency hosted on its Twitter account on Thursday.  “What worries me perhaps more than anything is just the existing barriers that people with disabilities face.   I can speak for this myself, personally”, she said.    Ms. Lee, who uses a wheelchair, explained that health care access is already difficult for some people with disabilities, even in high-income locations.   Other barriers include physical obstacles, discriminatory laws and existing stigma.  “These things, if Governments…

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