Episode 2 of the Right On Podcast: Human Rights Activists Respond to COVID-19 explores criminalization and policing. Many countries are now seeing the most significant deployment of law enforcement and national defense forces since World War II. Should they be arresting people who refuse to follow lockdown regulations? Or will aggressive policing, abuse and criminalization only undermine trust and fuel the virus? Should we also be considering the labor rights of frontline police officers? Can human rights offer us a way forward out of this crisis?
No easy answers, but it was a real delight to explore these questions with three inspiring activists who are also friends: Edwin J. Bernard (HIV Justice Network), Felicita Hikuam (AIDS and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa), and Mikhail Golichenko, a Russian lawyer. Actually, Patrick Eba suggested, on the first episode, that we talk to the HIV Justice Network, and it was a great suggestion. The second episode is now being edited and will air Friday, May 15, 2020 on Apple, Spotify, Soundcloud, and Stitcher. Continue reading →
The COVID-19 lockdown has proven economically devastating, and to enable people to move freely and start national economies moving also, many governments are exploring digital contact tracing. Mobile phone apps that track individual movements can enable real-time health surveillance and case management. However, once it exists, that data on health and individual movements can pose real threats for everyone—particularly for women and girls, and for marginalized and disfavored groups. Racing to embrace digital contact tracing without putting laws and policies in place to address the stigma surrounding the epidemic, and to protect the rights of those most marginalized, risks undermining the goal of epidemic control. Continue reading →
In this first episode of Right On: Human Rights Activists Respond to COVID-19, we talk to three leading human rights experts: law professor Scott Burris (Temple University), Patrick Eba (UNAIDS country director, Central African Republic) and Yaqiu Wang (China researcher, Human Rights Watch) and ask them: What are the tradeoffs we should make between individual freedoms and the greater public good? What are tradeoffs we just cannot not accept? And what can we learn from over 30 years of fighting for human rights in the response to HIV and tuberculosis? Moderated by Meg Davis in Geneva.
As countries scramble to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is seeing a massive roll-out of lockdowns, quarantines, and military and police deployments unlike anything we have experienced before. What does this mean for human rights – especially for people who were already marginalised and struggling to survive? Will populist and authoritarian rulers use the crisis as an excuse to expand surveillance, shutting down criticism in ways that threaten privacy, autonomy and accountability? A panel of leading experts on human rights from China, Kenya, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS explore these questions, and how the UN and civil society are responding to them.
Allan Maleche, Founding Executive Director of Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS
As a member of a COVID-19 working group at the Graduate Institute’s Global Health Centre, I’ve been monitoring some human rights issues emerging in the response. Here’s a quick update as of April 6, 2020.
More than 3.9 billion people, or over 50% of the world’s population are now on some form of lockdown, with growing military and police enforcement of regulations. Human Rights Watch has warned that some authoritarian states are using the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to expand their powers, and has documented abuses linked to enforcement of lockdown and quarantine regulations in numerous countries. In South Africa, over 17,000 people have been arrested, with reports of abuse; abuses have also been reported in the UK, Kenya, Bangladesh, the Philippines and elsewhere. As the ranks of national guards and law enforcement forces swell to include volunteers and others who may have had limited training or professional experience, managing law enforcement may cause new challenges as their deployment stretches over weeks or months. Continue reading →
I’m pleased to share the 2018 dates for Geneva Center for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH)’s much-in-demand short courses on sexual violence in conflicts and emergencies. I coordinate the courses, with speakers from the Red Cross, Médécins Sans Frontières, UN and more.
Combining cutting-edge research and practical experience from experts in the field, the course is tailored to emergency program managers, and one of the few courses to address male and female survivors of sexual violence. Participants in the Uganda session meet with activists from the Refugee Law Project to hear about their experiences first-hand.
I understand that many of the fraud and corruption investigators here today are former police officers. Human rights activists like me usually go out of our way to avoid talking to the police, let alone answering your questions. But I was asked to address human rights as it relates to corruption in development aid, and over the past few days, I’ve had the opportunity to hear many investigators here describe the same challenges that human rights advocates share. In fact there’s a lot of overlap between corruption and human rights abuses, and in what some agencies are doing to address both. Continue reading →
UNAIDS has posted its new draft strategy online. There’s good news for human rights advocates: human rights and gender equality are front and center. The challenge: human rights will still be measured and reported on separately from mainstream health indicators.
While that means the issues may get more visibility, it also keeps human rights out of the system of routine reporting that national AIDS programs do. Instead, UNAIDS, WHO and other global health agencies should integrate law and policy analysis into the disease impact models on which the strategy is based. Here’s why.
“Annie Lennox SING campaign, Vienna 2010 b” by Manfred Werner – Tsui – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Take a trip back to the fabulous summer of 2010, when thousands of activists marched at the International AIDS Conference, waved our beer steins in Stephansplatz to the sweet songs of Annie Lennox, and demanded Human Rights and HIV/AIDS, Now More Than Ever. That year, UNAIDS added ambitious human rights targets to its 2011-15 “Getting to Zero” strategy.
Now fast forward to 2015. The UNAIDS-Lancet Commission has once again called for ambitious human rights action to help bring an end to AIDS by 2030. As UNAIDS and The Global Fund craft new strategies for the next four years, it seems like a good time to ask – how are we doing?
I’m no longer in eight meetings a day, and freed of the obligation to represent a $3-billion-a-year institution, I’m feeling a little gleeful, a bit like the Catalonian guy in this picture. Some occasional thoughts on health, human rights, travel and other topics will find their way here.