Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters. File/AFP
Taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to erode human rights would be unacceptable, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday, unveiling a new report on the issue.
As governments around the world implemented extraordinary measures to deal with the outbreak, activists have increasingly warned of strongmen regimes using the crisis to roll back rights.
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Rights groups have called states out for everything from violence, threats to press freedom, arrests and smartphone surveillance implemented to fight the wave of infections.
"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," Guterres said in a statement.
"This is unacceptable."
He called on governments to be transparent, responsive and accountable.
"Civic space and press freedom are critical. Civil society organizations and the private sector have essential roles to play. And in all we do, let's never forget: The threat is the virus, not people," Guterres said.
The UN report on human rights and COVID-19 suggested that governments think about the consequences of their actions, saying "for better or for worse it is critical to consider the long-term whilst planning our short-term responses."
The UN chief told a high-level meeting of the UN Security Council that 130 countries have not received a single dose of vaccine and declared that “at this critical moment, vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community.”
“The response to Covid and to the financial aspects [of the crisis] has been fragmented, and geopolitical divides are not helping,” Guterres told the FT.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption to education in history and prolonged school closures could further entrench inequalities in access to learning.
The event, hosted by the High-Level Champions and the Dubai Chamber, supported by the COP28 Presidency, brought together key segments of society to mobilise efforts for inclusive climate progress ahead of the UAE-hosted climate summit.
Sami Abrahim’s brother, Ali Raza, took to Twitter to confirm his release. BOL TV confirmed his release in a news announcement. Another pro-Khan TV journalist, Imran Riaz, went missing earlier this month and was yet to be freed.
Khan has been asked to appear before the JIT at 4pm at the Qilla Gujjar police headquarters, Dawn reported. He has been called for questioning in a case registered with the Sarwar Road police station against the attack.