Read by THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CIDH
Mr Naji Moulay lahsen
The world is now facing an unprecedented health pandemic – Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The epidemic began in China in December 2019 and has spread at an alarming rate in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
It spread rapidly across North Africa recording significant cases of COVID-19. Although the pandemic is considered a « health problem », its management and impact has critical economic, social, political and psychological consequences.
At the same time, the emergency has bred new responses, and forms of both local and global solidarity, that either build on existing, positive official or unofficial responses to the virus or compensate for a lack thereof.
Several measures have been taken to counter this disease, which has both an economic and social impact on the lives of populations. Lifestyles have been strongly shaken and disrupted. In this new context, it is important to ensure that vulnerable groups are not yet marginalized or suffer more seriously from the effects of this disease. Indeed, throughout the continent, ngos and civil society are mobilized to contribute to the response to this pandemic, and we must continue to maintain pressure and advocacy so that the fundamental freedoms that are the foundation of our societies are maintained; so that the rights to health and health services are the same for all, rich and poor; so that freedom of expression is promoted to the fullest extent; so that the freedoms of movement that have been momentarily interrupted are restored; so that governments do not use this pandemic to restrict civic spaces. Because in the face of death we are all equal.
While everyone is definitely affected by the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality of its impact on the well-being of women and girls, not only in Africa but around the world, calls for a special response.
With indebted economies, weak health systems, entrenched systems, social inequalities and a crude political elite class, human rights defenders are experiencing the impact of COVID-19.
In general, defenders, journalists, lawyers, youth, civil society organizations, institutions, sexual minorities and other vulnerable groups are already suffering the full impact of this pandemic.
The CIDH has carried out several activities to monitor, coordinate and support human rights defenders in North Africa by limiting the spread of the virus and reducing the impact while strengthening solidarity with those on the front line and most affected.
CIDH calls on the African Commission for Human Rights to:
1. Include civil society in contingency plans and ensure that government responses address intersectional oppression.
2. Advocate and influence the provision of services and interventions for human rights defenders imprisoned in prisons.
3. Advocate and influence the formulation and subsequent implementation of
compliance with human rights response and recovery policies at the national, regional and global levels.
4. Instill real-time mechanisms to assess and monitor the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on human rights defenders in all their diversity and share timely, reliable and authoritative information and analysis on COVID-19.
5. Mobilize and coordinate the response of human rights organizations in its multidimensional diversity to strengthen networks and build solidarity for sustainable transformative interventions.