Policy response from Human Rights NGOs to COVID-19: the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre

April 9, 2020

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak: Human rights defenders & civic freedoms

Public health measures and expanded government powers amid global pandemic pose added threats to freedoms and rights of human rights defenders, including those focusing on business-related human rights impacts. Some governments, and other actors, are using this crisis to attack defenders in new ways, stifle civic freedoms, and push through restrictive measures. Defenders become easier to target, when they isolate, which is compounded by the loss of protective accompaniment and the lack of media attention to their situation. In several countries, rural and indigenous defenders have lost their livelihoods and are experiencing lock-downs – including those in conflict zones – and are less able to raise concerns about harmful business projects as a result. There are also reports of factories using the pandemic to justify dismissal of labour rights defenders. Tech companies may also violate the right to privacy of defenders, as they cooperate with governments to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Some companies are keeping their businesses active, for example in Peru and Colombia, despite the local opposition – and some sectors are likely to use the crisis to lobby for lower regulations, as we are already seeing in Indonesia and the United States, which could lead to more tension and violence in the future. This crisis also underlines that businesses benefit from defenders being able to work freely: this is now more evident than ever, as silencing of health professionals that tried to raise alarm on COVID-19 early, helped turn this ‘potentially containable threat into a global calamity‘, with enormous consequences for businesses and the economy.

The Centre has a section that features the latest news on how the pandemic and the response to it is affecting human rights defenders that raise concerns about businesses, and their impacts on the rights to food, access water, labour rights, environment, housing and health. It also highlights impacts on fundamental freedoms, such as freedoms of expression, association, and assembly, that these defenders need to be able to organize and work. Finally, it will be tracking new ways of protesting and organizing by these defenders and groups amidst the pandemic, and new demands in response to it.

—-

See  In Depth Area for more on COVID-19’s implications for business & human rights

 

One Response to “Policy response from Human Rights NGOs to COVID-19: the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: