Latin America gov’ts utilizing repression in COVID-19 combat: Amnesty

Riot police preparing to contain people who were detained for violating El Salvador's nationwide lockdown measures in San Salvador, El Salvador [Jose Cabezas/Reuters]

Lockdown measures put in place throughout Latin America to restrict the unfold of the coronavirus pandemic have repressed civil liberties and violated human rights, a rights group stated on Friday. 

Amnesty International stated it has verified almost 60 incidents within the area over the previous seven weeks that present governments utilizing arbitrary, punitive and repressive techniques to implement quarantine orders.

“The footage we’ve verified from throughout the Americas since late March offers worrying indications that governments are reverting to the sorts of repression we documented in 2019 and earlier, however this time to implement pandemic-related public well being measures,” stated Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

Starting in March, many international locations in Latin America declared states of emergency, imposed curfews and carried out lockdown measures in an effort to stem the unfold of COVID-19. While restrictions have diversified, some international locations resorted to coercion to implement the restrictions, together with the usage of detention.

In Venezuela, even earlier than the pandemic, the United Nations referred to as the nation the location of one of many world’s 10 worst humanitarian crises in 2019, noting that 9.three million of the 30 million inhabitants devour inadequate portions of meals. Some 5 million individuals have fled consequently.

Though numbers of reported deaths and circumstances from the virus seem modest, Venezuelans are affected by the financial shutdown and delays within the state meals distribution programme referred to as CLAP. During April, some 150 protests erupted throughout the nation to demand meals, and 464 referred to as for entry to fundamental providers together with electrical energy, water and fuel.

Amnesty says there have been indications of extreme and pointless use of drive to disperse the protests, in line with a widespread coverage of repression used to silence dissent since at the very least 2017. Venezuelan officers have described the protests as “riots”. 

In Argentina, Amnesty International verified a video during which the police beat a homeless particular person for apparently being on the street through the lockdown. 

Amnesty additionally factors to the Dominican Republic, which has detained 27,000 individuals between April eight and May 7, in line with police studies cited by the rights group, for allegedly non-compliance with the night curfew.

El Salvador has equally detained 1000’s of individuals for alleged residence quarantine violations in authorities “containment centres” that lack correct hygiene and security necessities. 

Amnesty stated it has verified movies from Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Dominican Republic during which police appeared to cease or detain people who have been on their strategy to get meals or provides.

In Honduras, Amnesty cited an area nongovernmental organisation, ACI Participa, which documented 106 peaceable demonstrations of individuals demanding meals, medication and water from native and nationwide authorities in April. According to the organisation, safety forces repressed most of the protests – together with by way of the usage of tear fuel and firearms towards peaceable protesters.

Most governments have stated the lockdown measures are wanted to stem the unfold of the illness, notably in international locations the place well being methods are usually not geared up to deal with a widespread outbreak. 

Amnesty warned that such measures are usually not solely severe violations of human rights, however will even in the end be ineffective in containing the unfold of the illness.

“While COVID-19 impacts us all, it doesn’t have an effect on us all in the identical method. Many of those that face repression within the Americas are marginalised individuals who want entry to meals, healthcare and different requirements, not criminalisation and ill-treatment. Governments are mistaken in the event that they assume repressive measures will shield individuals from the illness,” stated Guevara-Rosas.

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