Thanks for creating this space. I have been contemplating some of the extreme measures the governments are taking to curb the spread of the virus and below are my key concerns:
Several countries have decided to have total lockdowns for the better good. This is a good move by the governments to kill the spread of the virus as human movement facilitates the spread of the virus as it is not airborne and the thinking behind the lockdown is to facilitate the natural death of the virus.
Another move is to have curfews and this is the move that my country Kenya has taken. Where the people are not allowed to be outside after 7:00 pm to 5:00 am except for critical and essential services. As a nation, we have never forgotten and never healed from the scars of the Post-election violence intervention of the police to enforce law and order. Many cases of extra-judicial killings and rape are yet to be prosecuted to date
The sexual violence mirrored widespread violations against women after a disputed 2007 vote, when 1,200 people were killed, HRW (Human Rights Watch) said. At the time, the group documented at least 900 cases of sexual violence but said this was likely an underestimate.
“The new cases related to the August and October 2017 elections demonstrate a disturbing continuum,” Tina Alai, a lawyer with New York-based Physicians for Human Rights.“Police have continued to perpetrate sexual violence against civilians they are obligated to protect,” she said.
My main concern is just like the one above, on all occasions where the police were tasked with protecting the public, they ended up acting contrary to their assignment.
I woke up to some information of two individuals who were shot dead by the police in Rwanda for defying lockdown orders.
In Korea, the right to privacy has been limited to allow the state to conduct massive surveillance and at times even make public some private data. This is a bold move where the military and the police are assigned unregulated powers to do mass surveillance on suspected carriers of the virus.
“Now, quarantine officers have maximum power and authority,” said Kim Jun-geun, an official at Changnyeong County who collects information from quarantine officers.
This has worked to curb the virus in South Korea but I believe such maximum powers and authority should be limited. The citizens should have the right to give consent if their information is to be shared by third parties. The rights of the patients are also abused as they have the right to privacy and not have their status disclosed as they could suffer stigma from the public. Given the fact that some patients could be asymptomatic and might not be intentionally spreading the virus and by exposing them they could be exposed to abuse by the general public. We have seen a case where a suspected corona patient was beaten to death by a Mob in Kwale, Kenya. Now imagine if the public had access to data about people who are infected?
Not to sound like a critic during this moment, I just want to request all of us Justice defenders to be on high alert when such drastic measures are enforced for the better good. We should be on high alert to record and document such abuses. The fact that the drastic measures work for us does not mean we suspend human rights.