U.N. Human Rights Chief, Michele Bachelet, is calling on governments throughout the world to respect the rights and dignity of their people and to stop the widespread violations that lead to the deaths of innocents and impunity for those who commit atrocities. Bachelet presented an overview of the global human rights situation to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The High Commissioner presented a quick and sad snapshot of the human rights situation in dozens of countries around the world. The picture she drew was that of massive suffering by millions of people repressed and exploited by their leaders for their personal gain.
She found societies in all regions split by hatred, xenophobia and discrimination — many beset by war. In the African region, she looked at the harm caused by inter-communal violence in countries such as South Sudan and Cameroon.
Bachelet noted the heavy toll taken on civilians by increasing attacks and killings by Boko Haram, the Islamic State in West Africa group and other Jihadist groups in Nigeria.
She highlighted the plight of people in the Sahel countries, particularly Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
“Attacks by violent extremist groups caused over 4,000 killings in 2019 — 500 percent more than in 2016, according to the SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General] for West Africa and the Sahel," she said. "This has alarming humanitarian consequence, including massive displacement and setbacks for development.”
Bachelet condemned the attacks on Syria’s northwestern provinces of Idlib, Aleppo and Hama, which have caused the most massive displacements of civilians in the past nine years of conflict. She denounced India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, which discriminates against Muslims and has resulted in deadly inter-communal violence.
She looked at the profound inequalities that exist across many countries in Central America. These have led to violent protests and mass migration. She criticized the United States for its hard-nosed approach toward migrants.
“Restrictive U.S. migration policies raise significant human rights concerns," she said. "Reducing the number of people trying to enter the country should not be done in disregard of asylum and migrant protections. The situation of children in detention is of particular concern.”
High Commissioner Bachelet offered her respect to the medical teams around the world who are tackling the coronavirus epidemic. She said Covid-19 posed a serious threat to the rights to life and to health of people everywhere.
She noted the human rights of people had to be taken into account to effectively combat the virus. She said all public health measures should be carried out without discrimination of any kind.
She added quarantines, which restrict the right to freedom of movement, should be proportionate to the risk and the rights of those under quarantine must be protected.