United Nations head Antonio Guterres last week rebuked countries that have taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to silence dissenters and critics as well as suppress the media.
Though the countries were not named, Guterres accused authorities in these nations of using Covid19 restrictions to weaken their political opposition.
“Using the pandemic as a pretext, authorities in some countries have deployed heavy-handed security responses and emergency measures to crush dissent, criminalize basic freedoms, silence independent reporting and curtail the activities of non-governmental organizations,” he said.
“Human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, political activists and even medical professionals are being detained, prosecuted and subjected to intimidation and surveillance for criticizing government pandemic responses,” the UN chief pressed further.
He also claimed that “pandemic-related restrictions are being used to subvert electoral processes, weaken opposition voices and suppress criticism.”
Guterres lamented the widespread reach of misinformation about the pandemic, saying that access to life-saving information regarding the virus was kept hidden, while “deadly misinformation” had been propagated, “including by those in power.”
He also addressed the inequality within nations in terms of Covid19 vaccine access. According to Guterres, 75% of all vaccine doses had been distributed in a mere 10 countries, while over 130 more have not yet received any.
“Vaccine equity is ultimately about human rights,” he said. “Vaccine nationalism denies it.”