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Latest COVID-19 updates

    July 08, 2021

    Reacting to the news that four million people have now died globally from Covid-19 according to Johns Hopkins University, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard, said:

    “At least four million lives have now been lost to Covid-19. This devastating milestone must spur richer governments and companies into immediate action. How many more millions must die before the knowledge and technology to produce enough vaccines for everyone are made universally available?

    “The life-saving impact of vaccines is clear. Since January, the number of people dying in countries that have managed to give at least one dose to over half the population has reduced by over 90 per cent.

    “Yet, because vast swathes of the world have little or no access to vaccines, one person is still dying from Covid-19 every 11 seconds – mostly in lower-income countries. Equal access to vaccines shouldn’t be based on where you live, it’s a basic human right.

    May 20, 2021
    G20 leaders must waive vaccine patents and other intellectual property restrictions now to save lives 60,000 people dying weekly across South America and South Asia – mass loss of life where vaccines are scarce cannot be ignored Waiver must include diagnostics and treatments

    G20 leaders meeting tomorrow at the Global Health Summit must face up to the harsh reality that the clock is ticking and without waiving intellectual property rights now Covid-19 may not be brought under control for years, Amnesty International warned today.

    More than 60,000 people died from Covid-19 across South America and South Asia last week, accounting for over 70 per cent of deaths globally in that period. Oxygen is in short supply and health systems in these regions are reaching breaking point. In Pakistan, just one in 75 people have been vaccinated, compared to the US where one in two people have received at least one jab.

    May 04, 2021
    G7 governments still refusing to waive intellectual property on Covid-19 vaccines, despite widespread public support People’s Vaccine Alliance calls for G7 leaders to support a vaccine patent waiver at today’s foreign and development ministers meeting in London.

    A supermajority of people in G7 countries believe that governments should ensure pharmaceutical companies share the formulas and technology to their vaccines, according to new polling from the People’s Vaccine Alliance.

    The public believes that pharmaceutical companies should be fairly compensated for developing vaccines, but should be prevented from holding a monopoly on the jabs.

    It comes as G7 foreign and development ministers meet in London, the group’s first in-person meeting in two years, and the general council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meets today online, while India’s death toll climbs.

    April 22, 2021
      New: #StandWithBelarus on Social Media

    Since the widely disputed presidential election in August 2020, the Belarusian regime has engaged in a brutal crackdown on all forms of dissent, real or imaginary.

    Last fall, a global petition against police brutality which saw 191,000 people from 144 countries and territories call for an end to police violence in Belarus. The visibility of that international action meant a great deal to people on the ground in Belarus struggling to defend human rights.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO:

    April 06, 2021
    Pandemic lays bare massive systemic inequality worldwide with ethnic minorities, health workers, and women among the most severely impacted Report finds COVID-19 weaponized by leaders to ramp up their assault on human rights New Secretary General Agnès Callamard calls for a re-think and reset of broken systems in order to genuinely build back better

    The global pandemic has exposed the terrible legacy of deliberately divisive and destructive policies that have perpetuated inequality, discrimination and oppression and paved the way for the devastation wrought by COVID-19, Amnesty International said in its annual report published today.

    Amnesty International Report 2020/21: The State of the World’s Human Rights covers 149 countries and delivers a comprehensive analysis of human rights trends globally in 2020.

    March 25, 2021

    Governments across Latin America and the Caribbean must prioritize high risk groups for COVID-19 vaccination and ensure complete transparency in the design and implementation of their vaccination plans and their dealings with pharmaceutical companies, said Amnesty International in a new report released today. Vaccines in the Americas: Ten Human Rights Musts to ensure health for all examines the vaccination rollout in 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and outlines 10 key recommendations for governments and companies.

    “The commencement of vaccination against COVID-19 has brought hope to a region that was already experiencing multiple human rights crises, many of which have since been exacerbated by the pandemic. A year on from the beginning of lockdowns in Latin America and the Caribbean, governments must use vaccination as an opportunity to bridge inequalities, not widen them,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    March 24, 2021

    Responding to the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption, today, of a resolution calling for equitable, affordable, timely and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, Amnesty International’s Health Advisor, Tamaryn Nelson, said:

    “This resolution is yet another urgent reminder that vaccine access is a basic human right that every single person is entitled to. The resolution rightly calls for increased international cooperation, and expresses serious concern over the global disparity in access to COVID-19 vaccines. It emphasizes the urgent need for states to fulfil the right to health and the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, which includes access to vaccines.

    “States must cooperate to ensure vaccines are developed and manufactured in sufficient supply, and distributed in a timely and equitable manner around the globe. Businesses, especially the pharmaceutical industry, must live up to their human rights responsibilities and make every effort to ensure that vaccines are affordable and accessible to the maximum number of people worldwide.

    March 17, 2021

    Prisoners around the world have been forgotten during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from Amnesty International, as prisons have faced systemic challenges to prevent the spread of the virus, with control measures leading to serious human rights violations. The organization is calling for the millions of people languishing in overcrowded cells to be included in national vaccination roll-outs.

    Forgotten Behind Bars: COVID-19 and Prisons reveals that, with more than 11 million estimated people imprisoned globally, prisons in many countries risk becoming hotbeds for the disease. Many inmates struggle to access soap, proper sanitation, or personal protective equipment, while physical distancing is difficult to achieve and only limited health care is available.

    March 11, 2021
    Amnesty launches global campaign calling for universal access to COVID-19 vaccines Rich countries have bought up over half the world’s vaccine supply, but represent just 16 per cent of the world’s population Pharmaceutical companies refuse to share knowledge and technology

    The actions of pharmaceutical companies and rich countries mean that billions of people at risk of COVID-19 are unlikely to receive a single dose of the life-saving vaccines this year, Amnesty International said as it launched a new global campaign calling for universal access to vaccines.

    The campaign - A Fair Shot: Universal Access to COVID-19 Vaccines – calls for pharmaceutical companies to share their knowledge and technology to maximize the number of doses of vaccines available around the globe. It also calls on states to stop engaging in ‘vaccine nationalism’ and work together to ensure that those most at-risk of COVID-19 in all countries can access life-saving COVID-19 vaccines immediately.

    March 10, 2021

    OTTAWA – As governments around the world prepare for World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings on intellectual property rights March 10-11, civil society groups are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to support a landmark waiver that would help boost global access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and PPE.

    In a letter sent to the Prime Minister on Wednesday, more than 30 organizations called on Trudeau to support a proposed temporary waiver of certain obligations under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).  

    The waiver – jointly proposed by India and South Africa – would mean WTO members would not have to grant or enforce patents and other intellectual property rights covering COVID-19 drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, and other technologies such as masks and ventilators.

    While the Canadian government has not rejected this proposal, importantly, it also has not agreed to it. This puts Canada in line with Australia, Brazil, the EU, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S. in obstructing the waiver.

    January 05, 2021

    The Israeli government must stop ignoring its international obligations as an occupying power and immediately act to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are equally and fairly provided to Palestinians living under its occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, said Amnesty International today.

    On 23 December, the Israeli Health Ministry began the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Having already given initial jabs to more than a 10th of its population, Israel has been hailed as the country that has to date achieved the widest vaccination coverage in proportion to its population size. However, the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan so far covers only citizens of Israel, including Israeli settlers living inside the West Bank, and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. It excludes the nearly 5 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, under Israeli military occupation.

    January 05, 2021

    By Tamaryn Nelson, Amnesty International’s Health Advisor. Please note that this op-ed was originally published on gal-dem in mid-Dercember. Since then Canada has started a vaccination program.

    The fight against COVID-19 has taken a huge leap forward this month. The historic rollout of the first vaccine is underway in the UK and the USA, while Canada and others are set to soon follow suit. For many the news represents light at the end of the tunnel as we may have the opportunity to put an end to this pandemic.

    But this is a global crisis that requires a global solution. The success of any vaccine will depend on it being fairly distributed and made available first to those most at risk – regardless of where they live, who they are, or what they can afford.

    We all have the right to be protected against COVID-19. But as wealthy countries hoard doses, the lifesaving potential of vaccines risks being undermined by inequality and corporate interests. 

    December 17, 2020

    Now more than ever, it’s important to know our rights when it comes to the police. Police violence has been a defining feature of 2020 - from the brutal killing of George Floyd in the US, to violent crackdowns on protests in Belarus, Hong Kong and Nigeria.  

    The COVID-19 pandemic has also fuelled police abuses around the world. As Amnesty International documents in a new report, law enforcement has often played far too prominent a role in what is fundamentally a public health issue.  

    In many countries police have abused their powers - carrying out mass arrests, beating or shooting people for violating public health restrictions, or using force against peaceful protesters. Many governments have used the pandemic as a pretext for repression, resulting in arrests and detentions of journalists, activists and health workers for sharing information, or for criticizing COVID-19 response measures. 

    December 16, 2020

    Abusive policing and excessive reliance on law enforcement to implement COVID-19 response measures have violated human rights and in some instances made the health crisis worse, Amnesty International said today. 

    In a new briefing, COVID-19 Crackdowns: Police Abuse and the Global Pandemic, the organization documented cases in 60 countries where law enforcement agencies committed human rights abuses in the name of tackling the virus. This includes cases where people were killed or severely injured for allegedly breaching restrictions, or for protesting against detention conditions. 

    In Iran for example, security forces reportedly used live ammunition and tear gas to suppress protests over COVID-19 safety fears in prisons, killing and injuring several people. In the first five days alone of a curfew in Kenya, at least seven people were killed and 16 hospitalized as a result of police operations. 

    December 10, 2020

    Leaders ignore their responsibilities at their peril. Across the globe, people are organizing in extraordinary numbers, with a sense of common purpose that unites them across race, gender, age and social condition. 

    By Ketty Nivyabandi & Alex Neve*

    2020 has been a tumultuous year for human rights. 

    Like a mirror held to our faces, COVID-19 has unveiled our deepest inequities: Older people, women, Indigenous peoples, Black and racialized communities, refugees and migrants, low-income and homeless people, and those living with disabilities have borne the brunt of the pandemic. 

    The failure to respect the land and resource rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada once again led to confrontation and violence, notably in Wet’suwet’en Territory at the beginning of the year and the Treaty-protected Mi’kmaq lobster fishery more recently. 

    Demands for action to address systemic racism against Indigenous, Black and racialized peoples in Canada grew more urgent, particularly with respect to police violence. 

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