Covid-19 and human rights protection
The subject of human rights abuse has remained a challenge in many parts of the world especially in regions with still growing democracies like Nigeria, where reports of citizens been harassed by agencies of state are quite common.
In line with its responsibility to protect the right of the citizenry to good health, we have seen governments all over the world swing into action with drastic measures in the wake of the novel Covid-19 pandemic.
However it’s important to ensure that these drastic means do not ultimately prove to be more fatal than the virus itself.
These are trying times for persons around the world and governments should not make things any more difficult for its citizens especially the vulnerable.
Policies must be put in place to ensure that the acceptable restrictions to the human rights such as the freedom of movement and freedom of peaceful assembly do not interfere with other basic rights such as the right to food, right to education and right to health.
There have been questions raised about the intentions behind some of the policies made such as the placement of a travel ban on asylum seekers.
A more urgent concern for many Nigerians at this time is if an already failing government would work differently now in the best interest of its citizenry especially the vulnerable who are at higher risk of been affected by the economic impact of this pandemic.
Most Nigerians have now found themselves to be “between the devil and the deep blue sea” as they are running away from the disease but towards hunger.
The government has been unable to secure the citizenry’s right to food. The so-called meted-out palliatives have mainly existed on the screens of television and social media, the regular Nigerian hasn’t really benefited from these palliatives.
It’s important to note that the Nigerian government has limited capacity to feed its citizens, but the truth remains that a lot more can be done.
The government must wake up to the fact that majority of Nigerians whose means of livelihood has been affected depend on the government as well as well-meaning individuals and organizations for their welfare.
It is high time the government rose up to its responsibilities without giving excuses or sidestepping duties and obligations.
Furthermore, it will be foolhardy of the Nigerian government to be negligent of the fact that a holistic approach needs to be taken in handling the healthcare of the populace.
While the fight against the ravaging plague is on, attention should still be given to other diseases and conditions that cause preventable deaths.
The elderly, pregnant women and children are still in need of medical care. The media has reported the shutting down of community pharmacies which are supposed to be the easiest means of access to healthcare in this crisis and even harrassment of workers as well as the loss of a pregnancy because of the insensitivity of security agencies in a South-South state.
To reiterate the statement made by the UN High commissioner for Human Rights: “Covid-19 is a test of societies, of communities and of individuals…”
It is indeed a test that we all must endeavor to pass as a people by following laid down regulations and as a government by respecting human rights because, the results of this test will be boldly printed on the pages of history.
SIKA, DITARI EMILY.