The UN human rights office voiced concern on Monday about more than a dozen countries that have declared states of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic where police have arrested or detained hundreds of thousands of people and killed others.
“Emergency powers should not be a weapon governments can wield to quash dissent, control the population, and even perpetuate their time in power,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement that denounced shootings and detentions without being specific.
A top official from her office said about 80 countries have declared emergencies due to the new coronavirus, including 15 where the allegations were deemed most troubling. They were: Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Peru, Honduras, Jordan, Morocco, Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Iran and Hungary.
However, Georgette Gagnon, director of field operations, added at a virtual briefing in Geneva “there are probably several dozen more we could have highlighted”.