On February 24, 2022, I woke up in a new reality. My morning began before dawn with phone calls, messages and emails from family, colleagues and friends telling me that Russia had attacked Ukraine, with tanks entering from the territory of Belarus.
Much has changed since Uganda gained independence in 1962. Yet the country retains colonial laws that impede proper functioning of the media and freedom of expression. State intimidation of journalists also breaches international human rights standards.
Two well-known human rights NGOs from the Russian Federation were banned by the decisions of its judiciary in December 2021. It is a case study that reveals the link between a corrupt judiciary and an authoritarian state for which human rights are the greatest threat.
The way in which authorities have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic raises fundamental issues under the right to life. At the least, wilful failure to take reasonable steps to prevent deaths will violate the duty to protect life.
International human rights law is geared toward protecting rights of individuals. COVID-19, however, necessitated widespread restrictions placing the common good above personal liberties. Such derogations should be explicit, clearly defined and limited to safeguard against creeping normalisation of exceptional provisions.
COVID-related restrictions have unduly impacted freedom of religion or belief of individuals and communities globally, while religious minorities have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic. However, faith communities can play an important role in overcoming this crisis and future ones.
Lockdowns compounding lack of freedom. The COVID-19 pandemic has made voicing one’s views and protesting together impossible at times. But has this led to total silence? No. People across the globe have managed to express themselves, alone or together, offline and online, in new and creative ways.
What are the current international standards regarding the restrictions imposed by states on the freedom of assembly? While certain limitations are necessary for the protection of public health, states should bear in mind the scope of their international obligations.
How have religious leaders and communities responded to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, both immediate and long-term? In particular, what were their responses to measures implemented in most countries early in the pandemic that affected religious life?