UN chief Antonio Guterres on Monday criticised countries that are using the pandemic to justify cracking down on dissent, reining in the media and suppressing criticism.Speaking at the opening of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s main annual session, Antonio Guterres charged that authorities in a number of nations were using restrictions meant to halt the spread of Covid-19 to weaken their political opposition. “Using the pandemic as a pretext, authorities in some countries have deployed heavy-handed security responses and emergency measures to crush dissent, criminalise basic freedoms, silence independent reporting and curtail the activities of non-governmental organisations,” he said, without naming the countries.
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Click To Start Selling Now– ‘Moral outrage’ – He pointed to the hundreds of millions of families who have seen their lives “turned upside down” due to job losses and soaring debt. At the same time, he said, “the disease has taken a disproportionate toll on women, minorities, persons with disabilities, older persons, refugees, migrants and indigenous peoples.” As a result, he warned, “progress on gender equality has been set back years (and) extreme poverty is rising for the first time in decades.” In addition to inequalities within countries, the UN chief slammed inequalities between nations when it comes to accessing the Covid-19 vaccines coming to market as a “moral outrage”. A full 75 per cent of all vaccine doses have been administered in just 10 countries, he pointed out, while more than 130 countries have yet to receive a single dose. “Vaccine equity is ultimately about human rights,” Guterres said. “Vaccine nationalism denies it.” Beyond the pandemic, Guterres also highlighted the need for more action globally against systemic racism and ideas of white supremacy. “The rot of racism eats away at institutions, social structures and everyday life, sometimes invisibly and insidiously,” he said.