In her global update on human rights and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bachelet raised concerns over the targeting of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.
“I am dismayed by reports indicating that in many countries, members of minority communities and migrants face increasing stigmatisation – including, in some cases, by officials. In Sri Lanka and India, members of the Muslim minority are being targeted by stigma and hate speech associating them with COVID-19. In Bulgaria, Roma people have been stigmatised as a public health threat, with some local authorities setting up checkpoints around Roma settlements to enforce lockdowns. In Pakistan, hate speech against religious minorities remains virulent. Stigmatization and threats against people presumed to be infected by COVID-19 have also been reported in Haiti, Iraq and many other countries,” she said in her speech.
She updated the Council on human rights concerns related to COVID-19, which continues to gather pace – including many countries with limited medical, social and economic capacity to cope with its consequences.
Bachelet noted that the European Commission’s proposal for a multi-year response to the pandemic that tackles action for renewable energy together with public health and socio-economic support, committing to leave no one behind, is an example of sound leadership.
She also noted that in some countries, the recession sparked by the pandemic is already leading to calls by industries for regulations to be relaxed – including in sectors where human rights abuses are often reported. Such calls, she asserted, should be resisted. (Colombo Gazette)