Açiq məmbələrdən foto.

Açiq məmbələrdən foto.

As authoritarian leaders use Covid-19 to quash critics and to censor their populations, two surprise bills that address human rights during the pandemic were announced in the U.S. Senate on Friday by a group of bipartisan legislators, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

Both bipartisan bills, named The Protecting Human Rights during Pandemic Act and COVID-19 International Response and Recovery Act will ensure that U.S. takes a leadership role in countering abuses and protecting human rights in light of the pandemic.

The Protecting Human Rights During Pandemic Act, which will be introduced by key senators such as Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), as well as Congress members James McGovern (D-Mass.), Ann Wagner (D-Mo.), and Tom Malinowski (D-N.J,),  would also require the State Department and USAID to lay out a plan with the goal being to prevent human rights abuses from escalating in the name of the pandemic response.

The plan would be implemented through diplomacy and development assistance with foreign countries. The United States, the authors said, should take the lead, given its history of protecting individual rights.

Speaking with TURAN's Washington correspondent, a congressional source that involved in the drafting process, mentioned that the pandemic is exposing restrictions on freedoms "in many countries including Azerbaijan, Turkey, China, to name only a few."

Rights groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Committee to Protect Journalists, and several other, have supported the legislation and all have documented the recent crackdowns against independent voices in several countries from Azerbaijan to China, to Russia, etc.

"As societies around the world take shelter from the Coronavirus, we must redouble our efforts to ensure the public health measures are not weaponized by those who value power more than people," Senator Cardin said in a statement.

If enacted, the bill would require the State Department to collect data and report when governments were abusing emergency measures or powers in the name of the Coronavirus response.

The law would also require the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to submit an initial strategic plan, within 30 days of enactment, describing how they plan to carry out such activities. It would make it clear to countries that in order to provide security sector assistance, they would have to meet human rights standards laid out in the legislation.

The Act would also enable Congress to appropriate funding to support democratic institutions in the United States and abroad; it would require that the State Department brief congressional committees on the data collected.

"The United States must lead the way in making sure that the coronavirus pandemic does not become an excuse for governments to violate human rights or for authoritarian leaders to consolidate their rule," said Rep. McGovern.

Another bill, The COVID-19 International Response and Recovery Act, which was introduced on Friday by Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.),  Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), is aimed at compelling the Trump Administration to "constructively engage with other countries, international organizations, and multilateral fora to stop the spread of COVID-19".

According to the the bill, the U.S. Government, implementing emergency policies through its diplomacy and foreign assistance abroad, should "assertively champion the protection of internationally recognized human rights during and after the COVID–19 pandemic", and that the State Department and USAID should   directly or through nongovernmental organizations or international organizations, provide assistance and implement programs that support democratic institutions, civil society, free media, and internationally recognized human rights.

Alex Raufoglu

Washington D.C.


Leave a review


Follow us on social networks

News Line