The Americas and the world are now facing an unprecedented global health emergency caused by the pandemic of the COVID-19 virus; central to the measures taken by the States to address and contain the virus should be full respect for human rights. The COVID-19 pandemic may seriously affect the full exercise of people’s human rights because of the serious risks to life, health and personal safety that it poses, and may have an immediate, mid and long-term impact on societies as a whole, and on particularly vulnerable individuals and groups.
The Americas are the region of greatest inequality on the planet, characterized by profound social divides where poverty and extreme poverty are problems that cut across all countries of the region, along with the lack of or poor access to drinking water and sanitation; food insecurity, environmental pollution and the lack of adequate housing. Added to this are high rates of informal sector jobs and very low incomes that adversely impact a large number of people in the region, and that make the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 of even greater concern. All of this prevents or makes it difficult for millions of people to take basic measures to prevent the disease, particularly when it affects people who are in a particularly vulnerable situation.
At this point, there are no known viable pharmaceutical interventions to fight COVID-19; many countries have introduced containment measures that include quarantine, social distancing or isolation, the closing of schools and businesses, national and international travel restrictions, and guidance on preventive personal and community hygiene. As to containment measures to address and prevent the effects of the pandemic, the IACHR has noted that some rights have been suspended or restricted, and in other cases, a “state of emergency” or a “health emergency” has been declared by means of presidential decrees or different legal regulations in order to protect public health and prevent an increase in contagion. Different types of measures have been taken to restrict the rights of freedom of expression, access to public information, individual freedom, the inviolability of the home, and the right to private property; surveillance technology has been used to track the propagation of the coronavirus, and to store data on a massive scale.
In the exercise of its mandate, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), with the support of its Special Rapporteurs on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights, and on Freedom of Expression, hereby adopts the present resolution, standards and recommendations, convinced that the measures adopted by the countries to deal with and contain the pandemic should center on full respect for human rights.
Click here to read the full resolution in English.