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Latest COVID-19 updates

    July 14, 2020

    By Tanya O'Carroll, Director of Amnesty Tech

    Since the start of the pandemic, an army of companies - from the Big Tech players down to start-ups most of us haven’t heard of yet - rushed to be part of the Covid-19 response. This is the transformative ‘disruption’ to the healthcare sector they’ve been betting on - it just arrived a little differently than expected. But while they look set to cash in during the crisis, it could come at a terrible cost to our privacy.  

    June 24, 2020

    A human rights response to COVID-19 must include an intersectional approach which recognizes the specific impacts of the pandemic on LGBTI people, and the need for specific actions to ensure that the pandemic response doesn't lead to discrimination and further inequalities.

    Everyone is impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic. But we aren’t all impacted in the same ways or to the same extent. Multiple and intersecting identities including gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, disability, age, family status, employment status, and immigration status, all shape how a person experiences the pandemic.

    LGBTI people face significant discrimination which leads to barriers to accessing healthcare services; high rates of homelessness, poverty, and social isolation; and high rates of harassment and violence. The pandemic has further exacerbated these inequalities.

    May 29, 2020

    “Saying thank you is not enough. Governments must take action to ensure their basic rights and safety are never put at such horrendous risk again.”
    Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    As the crisis in Ontario and Quebec’s long-term care homes dominates the new headlines this week, the need to listen to, support and protect health care workers in all sectors has never been more urgent.

    More than half of the people in the world who have tested positive for COVID-19 live in the Americas. Several countries in the region are entering their deadliest phases in the coming weeks. Health and social care infrastructures are weak in several countries. Some governments, already marked by repressive measures, are further restricting rights and freedoms, and even denying the pandemic or its diverse impact on communities.

    May 27, 2020
    Cracks in the “Canada Brand”: profit before people creates high-risk conditions for communities made vulnerable by the pandemic 

    Workers’ concerns ignored at Canadian meat packing plants and hundreds made sick. Amazon employees fired for speaking out about conditions on warehouse floors. Energy workers expected to continue working despite outbreaks at mine sites and an inability to physically distance. Construction workers unable to wash their hands on the job because there is no running water. Mining considered an essential service that employs workers from across the country while small communities struggle to keep away visitors. These are some of the dire stories being shared across Canada as the pandemic reveals the impact of business decisions on workers and communities. While the situation varies from community to community, and some companies have taken steps to suspend operations in order to protect workers and communities, there is growing concern that not all companies are truly respecting human rights through this crisis.

    May 26, 2020

    10 of the worst government responses

    There are no easy solutions to the COVID-19 crisis – but it’s clear what doesn’t work. This pandemic has elicited truly jaw-dropping responses from some governments, marked by opportunism, bizarre science and total contempt for human rights.

    Here’s a guide to how not to handle a pandemic - courtesy of some of the most powerful people in the world.

    May 22, 2020

    Updated May 22, 2020

    Shocking footage of Rohingya women, men and children being rescued off rickety boats after dangerous sea voyages is still being broadcast around the world.

    According to reports, more boats – carrying hundreds more Rohingya people – are still stranded at sea and in urgent need of rescue. These vessels have nowhere to land, as countries ignore international obligations to allow safe disembarkation, using COVID-19 restrictions as a pretext.

    These policies raise the risk of repeating the dangerous mistakes of 2015, when the break-up of trafficking networks left thousands of Rohingya stranded in Southeast Asian waters, with likely hundreds losing their lives.

    Here, Amnesty International explains why the Rohingya are still risking everything to flee crowded refugee camps in Bangladesh and apartheid conditions in Myanmar.

    We also explain how countries in the region can help, and why the Rohingya shouldn’t be sent back to Myanmar.

    Who are the Rohingya people?

    May 19, 2020

    By David Griffiths, Director of the Office of the Secretary General, and Sarah Jackson, Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

    There are weeks where decades happen. These are those weeks.

    May 13, 2020

    The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating existing gender inequalities as lockdowns lead to higher rates of gender-based violence, less access to sexual and reproductive health services, increased unpaid care work, and much more. Not all women, girls, and gender diverse people are experiencing the pandemic in the same way. Women with disabilities, refugee and migrant women, Indigenous and minority women, LBTI women, women experiencing discrimination based on work and women living in poverty face heightened risks of discrimination, violence, and other rights violations. A pandemic is not an excuse to violate women’s rights!

    Read on to learn more!

    April 24, 2020

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s understandable that many of us are glued to our screens, scrolling through what can seem like endless newsfeeds, updates and headlines relating to the current crisis. Social media is now a window into current events all across the world, and when everyone’s attention is on one topic, it is understandable that consumers might reach ‘information overload’.

    At Amnesty International we have extensive experience of dealing with traumatic stories and images - unfortunately this comes with the job of exposing human rights abuses. But experiencing these stories and images can cause what specialists call ‘vicarious trauma’, where we can feel real personal emotional responses to what we are viewing on our screens, even when it hasn’t directly happened to us. While vicarious trauma is a worst case scenario, it's very normal for everyone to be feeling some emotional distress at the moment, and we need to be aware of that and take care of ourselves and others.

    April 19, 2020

    The world can feel overwhelming right now. As we strive to create a more just and equitable future, we can struggle at this time to know where to start.

    While we are engaged in physical distancing, we will find new and creative ways to care for ourselves, our loved ones, and our local and global communities.

    Here are some simple things you can do to help out:

    April 18, 2020

    May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day around the world. During a global health emergency, a robust media environment doesn’t just mean reporting on the nature and spread of COVID-19, it makes life saving information broadly accessible. And as emergency measures are increasingly used, journalists help hold authorities to account by documenting overreach, providing analysis, engaging in debate about government actions, and sparking dialogue about the different future we all hope to see.

    April 17, 2020

    With much of the world on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are relying on our phones, laptops and other devices to stay connected. While cyber-surveillance is a longstanding threat to human rights defenders and others, this new normal means options for using physical security alternatives (like simply communicating sensitive information in person rather than online) are seriously diminished. This raises the human rights stakes. It can mean everyone has more exposure to cyber-attacks and scammers who are seeking to exploit the outbreak. Here are six top tips on how to keep safe online.

    1. Update phone, computer and apps

    Your devices and any programmes that communicate with the internet should be up to date to reduce the risk of attack. Most browsers update automatically but look at the apps you use to read documents or view photos and videos you have found online.

    If you are using old versions of these apps it is more likely there will be bugs that can leave your devices vulnerable.

    April 14, 2020

    Indigenous communities are working to ensure the safety of their members in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Different communities face different threats and challenges and they are developing effective solutions based on the needs of the people and the resources at hand. Many are in need of better healthcare equipment and services, many have concerns about over-crowded housing, while people are checking-in with elders, sharing food and traditional medicines, and creating emergency plans. 

    Amnesty will be featuring different communities, their worries, and the solutions they have developed in the face of COVID-19. We will also connect activists with opportunities to advocate for Indigenous rights to ensure that everyone gets the help they need during the pandemic. 

    We begin with an introduction to Kelly Lake Cree Nation, a community of 800 people on the border between northern British Columbia and Alberta. 

    April 11, 2020
    Protecting communities, supporting workers and their families should be Canada's priority

    The global pandemic is a frightening time for humanity. Yet all around us, people are working hard to adapt to our current reality, support one another, protect the vulnerable, and together dream of a better future. In urging all levels of government to respect human rights and protect essential workers and their families, frontline healthcare workers, and communities, we are speaking together with one, unified voice. 

    People across Canada living in remote, rural and Indigenous communities with lesser access to health services, hospital beds and crucially, ventilators to help the critically ill, are calling on all of us to help them shut down the known pathways of infection into their communities.  They are asking us to help them stay healthy by staying away. 

    April 05, 2020

    Across Brazil, many Indigenous peoples have gone into voluntary isolation, barricading access roads to protect their villages from the COVID-19 pandemic. As one Indigenous nurse recently told Amnesty International by telephone: “I explain the importance of not leaving our villages. We are over 400 people in this Indigenous territory. If one person gets COVID-19, it can contaminate us all.” 

    Worries about the spread of the virus among Indigenous peoples have increased, as this week the first case among Brazil’s Indigenous peoples was confirmed: in Amazonas state, a 20-year-old Indigenous Kokama woman tested positive for the virus.