Justice trade offs during the Pandemic

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:

Lockdowns and curfews

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.

Mass surveillance

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.

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This is an insightful read. It is inspiring to see Justice defenders as you say anticipating the possible unfortunate consequences of well-intended measures. Thank you for pointing out the realities.

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This is a true reality observetion. Those entrusted to enforce measures be taught disciplene first.

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This may be difficult to do when the the policies meant to prevent their occurrence are not implemented. Most systems are reactive; in many cases policies are merely written to be displayed as deceitful proof that institutions/organisations have credible systems in place. There would not be as great a need for legal defense or protection of human rights if policies, rules, procedures and regulations were upheld - sadly, the unfortunate realities of the world.

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Bro Mustafa. In the Same country with u(kenya) despite this hefty restrictions during this pandemic,at my area mandera town the government has hosted and based a fugitive regional minister from jubaland region of Somalia and they are supporting with military backup to attack the border town of belet hawa in somalis.Kenya government has been keeping this regional forces at this place for the last one month.We share this with kenya national commission on human rights, human rights watch, Amnesty kenya and Haki africa and no communication from any of the above mechanisms.There was an attack carried by this force on somlia armry from thier bases in kenya with backing from kdf.12 kenyans in mandera kenya were injured after this force was overruned by Somalia national army where one kenya succumbed to the injuries.Also one police car was destoyed and another one cuptured by somalia forces, several members of the fugitive minister forces and kdf were injured. Leaders from across the county raised this with the government but no action was taken and this foriegn force is still stationed at where iam writing from.Most of rights defenders in this town who have been following and documenting are feeling the threat of this illegal forces at expenses of the local security.There is a lot of fear,high tensions and displacement from this town to other safer areas including across the borders to Ethiopia. Anyone interested can reach me on (by private message here on the forum).

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Very true Mustafa, the peculiar thing is that, when you look around, you Will find out poor grassroots struggling along the roads to escape from the hostile officers before they appear at 7PM. As far as Quarantine is significant, we need on the other hand, a State that pragmatically deals with this pandemic, eventually, people will enjoy a system that cares everyone

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Just as I had predicted the police couldn’t even try to protect people. They ended up breaking the social distancing rule by bundling people together. Today being day 1 of curfew, the level of police brutality is just beyond imagination.

In Mombasa police beating up people.

So the hospitals might be overwhelmed by people injured by police and wont be able to accommodate critical patients at this rate. Luckily some human rights watch like Muhuri at the coast are following up such cases. The media are also playing a critical role.

May God see us through these trying moments.

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Definitely familiarize yourself with WHO’s legal guidance on quarantine and UNICEF’s guidance on preventing stigma!

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In India the efforts to prevent the spread of Corona Virus is taking toll on the patients with other emergency health conditions. No hospital is willing to check the patients with urgent health conditions with heart ailments or other serious conditions until the patient is tested negative for the Virus. In doing so Doctor dump their basic knowledge on the symptoms of Virus just due to the fear of facing the wrath of law health authorities in the Government. With just one or two authorized testing centers in each of states of India, its virtually impossible for every patient to get tested for the Corona virus. I’m afraid that, thousands of patients are living in pain and some of them might be dying a quiet death due to the lack of treatment in these times of illogically Imposed lock down situation. This situation of "medical lock down"is a gold digging opportunity for a few corporate Hospitals, who are putting every patient irrespective of Covid 19 or not in an isolation ward and charging exorbitantly. Even the richest are scared to see the kind of escalation in charges demanded by these Corporate hospitals to provide any kind of treatment. Besides, due to the drop in revenue, these hospitals laid off the sanitation workers , leaving the hospital facilities in a virtual filth. A judicial intervention seems imminent to drill some sense in these chaotic times. Will judiciary entertain a petition on these matters? that’s a big doubt if we decipher the mood of the judiciary from its recent rejection of many PILs!

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Hi everyone!

It has been quite disheartening to see the use of police force as States try to enforce their lock down/ curfew policies. In Kenya, it has been noted that during this pandemic, police brutality has claimed more lives than COVID-19 itself. Sadly in Nigeria, this remains to be the case as well.

Interestingly, on the 15th of April, 2020, the National Police Service Commission in Kenya released a press statement acknowledging instances where Police discipline has been compromised and excessive use of force has been applied in enforcing COVID-19 related policies. The Commission stated that it has identified those isolated cases, taken the initial step to interdict the officers and recommended their dismissal and dishonorable discharge from the service. The statement further states that the Commission has approved the dismissals and will not hesitate to act on all Police Officers who conduct themselves unprofessionally at any time. One can only be cautiously optimistic and truly hope that the Commission will implement what it states.

Speaking of judicial interventions @hkrishna , the Kenyan courts declared the use of police force in enforcement of the State curfew unconstitutional. The Courts also ordered the State to include legal services as essential and exempt Advocates from the restrictions in the Curfew Order 2020. Legal services are essential!

Encouraging to see network member Kituo cha Sheria involved as an interested party in this case.

@Kirima @mustafa_mahmoud @WhitneyAdams @johnmasuwa @Cadala @AhmedMohamed

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Dear Aimee. Its good that other kenyans are now feeling what northern kenya people have been undergoing more that 50 years by our security agencies. Its not only police brutality but corruption, extortion of money by threatening to arrest and bribery.Last week i met someone the police collected from the only 200 shillings he worked for that day.This curfew has only increased the price of bribery for the police. More worse the law courts in place have never held court sessions the last one month giving the police a lot of changes in compromising cases like sexual/gender based violences.

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Amazing! It’s good to know that policymakers are recognizing this.

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Noor,

It is always a pleasure to hear from you and very encouraging to see that you are still committed to justice given the ever increasing challenges you face in Mandera. I was honoured to visit you and see for myself, even if for a brief period, the continued injustices that you speak of.

It has come as a relief that legal services have been declared essential by the courts. We can only hope then, that this decision makes its way to Mandera and that the SGBV cases, which have risen during this curfew period, are dealt with. Further, that the statement made by the National Police Service on police misconduct and brutality is a sincere indication that there will be consequences for errant police officers taking advantage of the State curfew.

It might be the situation that the legal system will be dealt a great number of cases of violations that occurred during the State Curfew period. If the communities we serve are unable to access justice immediately, I believe that good documentation of violations may present a chance at justice once the curfew is lifted.

Noor, I do understand how hopeless the situation may appear. But my brother, we try not to give up and use whatever is available to us to hold the government accountable and make justice accessible to the communities we serve.

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Aimee.

Thank you very much for your visit to mandera county and our partnership however it was short and distrupted by terror groups.Its very few like you who saw and worked in the environment who ca’n measure the desperateness of the situation.You are one person iam happy to have learnt because you are sincere and very straight.I hope and pray for you to be healthy and safe from this pandemic and iam sure this will not be the last time to seek for your advice and directions on one or two things pertaining to acess to justice and police accountability. Thank you again.

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