Coronavirus and human rights

As the Coronavirus pandemic tears across the world, we are all worried about the immediate impact and the future of our world. In countries hit by  the virus, many have already lost loved ones. Elsewhere people are bracing themselves for the spread of the virus, wondering how stretched healthcare systems can possibly cope. From physical-distancing and self-isolation, to working from home or loss of income, Coronavirus is disrupting lives in unimaginable ways.

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A medical staff wearing a facemask poses in an isolation ward at a newly inaugurated hospital by the Tamil Nadu state during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Chennai on March 27, 2020.

Who are those most at risk?

Coronavirus remains a harmful risk for us all. However, its effects are much more pronounced for the already vulnerable. Governments must ensure that vulnerable people who need assistance the most, recieve it. Indigenous communities (particularly those in remote areas), people living with disabilities, women and children who may face a heightened risk of domestic violence, those in custody, and those recently arrived in Australia all need urgent, targeted assistance.

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Police accountability and surveillance measures

New and extraordinary powers have been given to police to enforce unprecedented safety measures. The expansion of police authority–no matter how justified by circumstances–can expand the opportunities for abuse of human rights. We need to ensure police are using their new powers responsibly, fairly, and without bias and prejudic

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Three uniformed police officers walk the street in QLD.

What are we calling for?

All of us in Australia have responsibilities towards each other in this crisis, but our governments have an overarching duty to protect our health, wellbeing and our human rights. The way governments decide to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic, will impact the human rights of millions of people. Australia’s Governments can only fulfil this duty if it puts human rights at the centre of its response, and this must be a central consideration in all decisions of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission.

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How we're coming together

This is a time when we have the opportunity to help end demonization and anger – and move forward with empathy and kindness. While people need to be physically distant, we remain united.

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