The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said on Thursday that quarantines set up to contain the coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic must be "proportionate" to the threat and respect people’s rights.
Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Bachelet stressed that the fight against Covid-19 needed to be guided by human rights, while public health measures needed to be taken “without any discrimination” and in all transparency.
Quarantines which, by nature, “restrict the right to freedom of movement, should be proportionate to the risks” and “time-bound,” she said. “The rights of those under quarantine must be protected, including rights to food and clean water, the right to be treated humanely, access to health care, the right to be informed, and freedom of expression.”
The High Commissioner indicated that her national offices would support all stakeholders so that the human rights of everyone affected by the current health crisis would be preserved.
She stressed, in particular, the vulnerability of people living in collective institutions, including many elderly people and people deprived of their freedom, who are “liable to be more vulnerable to infection.”
Bachelet also noted that the epidemic had unleashed “a disturbing wave of prejudice against people of Chinese or East Asian ethnicity” and urged countries to “fight against all forms of discrimination.”
The Brussels Times