In a speech on February 22, the UN Secretary General criticized the measures to fight Covid-19 taken by “certain countries” aimed, according to him, at “suppressing dissonant voices”.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who spoke via video message on February 22, 2021 on the occasion of the opening of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, said criticized without naming them “certain countries” for having taken measures to fight against Covid-19 aimed at “repressing dissonant voices” while lambasting those who use this pandemic as a “pretext” to establish liberticidal measures, reports AFP .
On the occasion of this very political speech, Antonio Guterres warned against the actions of certain countries which are using the pandemic as a pretext for restrictive policies. Without naming any state or country in particular, he declared: “Brandishing the pandemic as a pretext, the authorities of certain countries have taken severe security measures and adopted emergency measures to suppress dissonant voices, to abolish freedoms. most fundamental, silencing the independent media and hampering the work of non-governmental organizations. ” He specifically lambasted authorities who are using the Covid-19 pandemic to deploy “heavy security interventions and emergency measures to crush dissent.”
Restrictions that “serve as an excuse to undermine the electoral process, weaken the voices of opponents and suppress criticism”
Quickly alluding to the media and political treatment of Covid19, he noted that “at times, access to vital information on Covid-19 has been hidden (while deadly disinformation has been magnified) including by those who are in power”. The UN chief also deplored that the related restrictions “serve as an excuse to undermine electoral processes, weaken the voices of opponents and suppress criticism”.
Thus, he added, “human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, activists and even health professionals have been subject to arrests, prosecutions and intimidation and surveillance for criticizing the measures (or lack of measures) taken to deal with the pandemic ”.
The UN chief, who spoke through pre-recorded messages, also spoke of the pandemic in a global way, stressing that the Covid-19 had “aggravated the vulnerabilities” and disrupted the lives of hundreds of millions of families who have lost a job or seen their income plummet. Antonio Guterres also spoke about white supremacism which he considers to be the “number one threat” in the world and warned against the power of digital platforms and the abuse of data.
As reported by Reuters, the Secretary General said: “I urge all member states to place human rights at the center of regulatory frameworks and legislation on the development and use of digital technologies.” “We need a secure, fair and open digital future that does not infringe on privacy or dignity,” he concluded.