On Freedom Day, the South African government was sharply criticized by the international human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) for violating civil rights as part of the Covid-19 lockdown.
In their 2020 / Annual Report 2021 , The state of human rights in the world , the government has been reprimanded for:
- excessive use of force by police and military in enforcing lockdown regulations;
- Exclusion of refugees and asylum seekers from Covid-19 aid programs;
- Failure to adequately protect health workers by providing adequate personal protective equipment (PPE);
- Misappropriation of Covid-19 aid funds;
- Cancellation of the country’s school feeding program, which supported nine million children; and
- insufficient support for victims following an explosion of sexual violence against women and children.
The report examined how countries around the world are ensuring the protection of human rights. Governments were trying to contain and fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shenilla Mohamed, SA executive director of AI, said: “The use of Covid-19 as an excuse for cracking down on human rights is exemplified by police brutality and loss of livelihoods and other human rights abuses. This makes it difficult to celebrate nearly three decades of freedom. “
” Now more than ever, there is a need for government to put people first and to ensure that all people enjoy their basic human rights.
“It is clear that while some progress has been made in changing the living conditions of poor people over the past 27 years, the main problem has been to tackle service delivery and inequality. People will never experience real freedom until they are able to live dignified and safe lives in which their human rights are respected, protected, promoted and fulfilled. “
The report highlights a significant increase in incidents of brutality by security guards enforcing national lockdown regulations.
The authors said the use of excessive and lethal force by security guards to enforce the Covid-19 regulations are “common and intensified”.
“In many cases this violence resulted in deaths and injuries. The April 10 2020 death of Collins Khosa after being brutal The fact that military and police officers are working on enforcing a national lockdown in Johannesburg’s Alexandra community reflects long-standing concerns about the use of excessive force by the security forces. The military ombudsman found that the military officers involved in the murder had acted improperly. “
Other deaths highlighted in the report were that of 39-year-old sex worker Elma Robyn Montsumi,” who died under suspicious circumstances in custody at Mowbray Police Station in Cape Town four days after her arrest on April 9, 2020 on suspicion of drug possession.
“No arrests have been made while the Independent Directorate of Investigations (IPID) is investigating. ”
Between March 25 and May 5 last year, the authors said the IPID received 828 complaints of police misconduct, including 589 assaults, 32 deaths as a result of police operations, 16 deaths in police custody, 25 Reports of torture in custody and eight alleged rapes by police officers.
“On April 7, 2020, police officers fired rubber bullets at homeless people living in a camp on the Strandfontein sports field in Cape Town as they protested their bad behavior Living conditions, including lack of food. “
Inadequate PPE, food aid after loss of income
The document also states that governments across Africa have not been able to adequately protect the health of workers who Covid-19.
“Workers who worked in unsanitary and unsafe environments due to the lack of PPE and disinfectants. At least 240 health workers died in SA in early August after contracting Covid-19. “
The report highlighted how the government’s Covid-19 social assistance programs had failed refugees and asylum seekers in the first half of 2020.
” Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants could – how the citizens – do not work in the informal economy that had previously supported them. At the time when the lockdown was most strictly enforced, only nationals were allowed to operate spaza shops. “
” The asylum system has failed those most in need. Governments must respect the right of asylum. They must guarantee access to national health and social protection systems for all asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. “
Support in the fight against gender-based violence
KIs The report revealed how sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) are under curfew” at an almost five times higher level Rate as the global average turned sour.
The document stated that rape and sexual assault increased by 1.7% in the first quarter of the year, with more than 42,000 reported rapes in 2019 -2020 and nearly 144 sexual offenses committed daily.
“Within the first week [of lockdown] the police had received more than 2,300 complaints.
” Survivors often had difficulty accessing justice To receive health care, legal assistance and counseling services. Covid-19 has also had a devastating impact on reproductive health and women’s rights as it disrupted access to maternal health services. “
Support from Scientists
The Authors Educational inequality in South Africa has been caused by school closings and the government’s disruption to the national school feeding program, which affects more than nine million children benefits, tightened.
“The authorities did not use the school closings as an opportunity to improve the school infrastructure. Children and staff did not have sufficient water, sanitation or PPE, and the teaching and learning conditions prevented them from exercising physical distance.
“The government directed the funds needed to improve the infrastructure in Around 2,000 schools had been promised to support projects related to Covid-19. “
While the government has been heavily criticized for how the rights of women and children have been protected and how brutal the security forces are, the authors said that protection against discrimination against women had made“ some progress ” Women and girls. She also took note of the government’s action against irregularities in Covid-19.
“In February the SA announced that it would draft a regional treaty on violence against women.
” President Cyril Ramaphosa set up a ministerial conference team to investigate corruption allegations related to Covid-19-related procurements, including PPE and food aid, allegedly distributed by ANC-affiliated politicians in a way that benefited certain communities. “