Coronavirus, Human rights

Human rights during the coronavirus pandemic

April 3, 2020
By Kristen de Groot | Penn Today

As nations like China use biometric surveillance to track citizens’ movements and Hungary gives its prime minister sweeping powers, it’s important to be vigilant about human rights, according to Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, former United Nations high commissioner for human rights, as these emergency procedures enacted during the coronavirus pandemic bring concerns of power grabs and privacy infringement.

Al Hussein, Perry World House Professor of Practice of Law and Human Rights, spoke with Michael Horowitz, PWH interim director and professor of political science, about the importance of centering human rights during this pandemic and about the continuing need for accountability from governments worldwide. 

“We see the enactment of emergency provisions, which is to be expected, which are enforcing and provide the grounds for lockdowns for restrictions on movement. That is all normal,” Al Hussein said. “What seems to be happening is in those countries that are already on a trajectory toward a greater authoritarianism; there we see things happening that make us feel nervous.”

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