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.
The Brazilian federal government has closed the country's land borders, citing the need to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Lacking in legal grounding, the closure increases the vulnerability of migrants, including their exposure to human rights violations.
Mandatory vaccination interferes with personal integrity but may be necessary to safeguard public health. However, states must consider all relevant factors in context and ensure such policies do not place disproportionate burdens on those hesitant about vaccination.
Apart from being a public health emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic is also a global crisis of public law and human rights. Emergency measures introduced in many countries pose concerns from the perspective of constitutional and international law.
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.
Having underestimated the SARS-CoV-2 virus and politicised its control, Brazil faces an extreme public health crisis. At the heart of the handling of the pandemic by its government lies an anti-human rights rhetoric derived from far-right populist politics.