This year’s 2020 Human Rights Day theme is “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights.” Interestingly, previous Human Rights Day themes covered specific issues such as standing up for equality, justice, or youth standing up for human rights. This year’s theme has the words “Recover Better” emphasized, and this shows how the focus on the elevation of human rights gets dramatized in 2020. We are faced with and admitted with the harsh reality that this year’s circumstances are much more severe than any other year. Due to the pandemic, the simple virus has turned over the majority of people’s daily lives. From health concerns, social concerns, psychological, and many more, humans are entering a crisis where we need to shed light on recovering our humanity.
“Lockdown” of Human Rights
From the 24th of March 2020, India’s government ordered a lockdown (one of the COVID-19 preventive measures) initially for 21 days but later extended to the 30th of May. It is hard for a country of nearly one billion people to take care of every single condition. However, the government still must ensure protection to its citizens under international human rights in any circumstances. Here is some status of human rights during the lockdown:
- Rights to free movement: Article 12.1 of ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) protects the right to freedom of movement – with an exception when it is due to protect public health. Public transportation is also locked down, meaning that workers had to travel hundreds of kilometers by foot. Moreover, the harsh restrictions from some police forces have been another issue due to amendments.
- Access to information: according to the Article 19 ICCPR it says “access to information concerning the main health problems in the community, including methods of preventing and controlling them” is the core obligation that all states must ensure.
Education is also an urgent topic under human rights recovery because of the pandemic. Since educational facilities are closed due to lockdown, the Ministry of Human Resource Development in India provided online learning resources. However, these supplies are only for a particular class of people who have internet access. From a report on the Internet and Mobil Association of India, only 27-32% of people had access to internet facilities meaning that the digital gap is widening. The online education policies further neglect marginalized groups and minorities in low sectors of the country with the inaccessible to education during this period.
Human Rights post-COVID-19 world
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased poverty, rising inequalities, structural and entrenched discrimination leaving gaps in human rights protection. We need to address particular problems such as end discrimination to fuel equality, address inequalities in promoting economic, social, and cultural rights, encourage participation and solidarity, and promote sustainable development. The post-COVID-19 world needs to fully recover to build back a more just, resilient, and better world. As the 2020 Human Rights theme is “Recover Better,” it is essential for every state to put careful measures to protect marginalized people, rather than implementing policies that only benefit a group of the population.