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Covid-19 measures must not be used to violate human rights: Amnesty

May 27. 2020
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By The Nation

On May 26, the government decided to extend the state of emergency, which was first imposed on March 26 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and has been used to restrict movement, peaceful assembly, privacy and freedom of expression, with penalties of imprisonment and/or fines. 

As the government reconsiders the exact measures it will take to address the outbreak after two months of lockdown, Amnesty International is calling on the authorities to ensure the restrictions it imposes are balanced and necessary. It is also calling on the government to employ measures that protect the rights of marginalised groups, who face greater risks because they cannot effectively protect themselves, face obstacles in accessing information about the virus as well adequate healthcare and services. They also lack the capacity to comply with the government’s existing measures.

Amnesty is also calling on the government to lift the charges faced by individuals who are being penalised for exercising their right to freedom of expression, stop the detention of refugees and migrants, and refrain from using restrictions to target critics with punishments that are politically motivated. 

While the right to freedom of peaceful assembly can be restricted to protect public health, those facing charges for breaching social distancing measures should never face imprisonment.

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