COVID-19 Special Coverage
Amnesty voices human rights concerns in Central Asia, Eastern Europe amid pandemic
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Amnesty voices human rights concerns in Central Asia, Eastern Europe amid pandemic

Amnesty International on Thursday expressed human rights abuse concerns over emergency COVID–19 responses across Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

Amnesty accused governments of broadening and abusing their police powers through emergency–pandemic measures intended to suppress political dissent, freedom of expression, and civil society.

Daniel Balson, advocacy director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty, referred to the emergency responses as “fertilizer” for human rights violations in a recent interview with Radio Free Europe.

“By and large, governments in the region have not used the pandemic to invent new ways to repress people but have accelerated their use of well-honed methods,” he said. “What has changed is that many governments have viewed the pandemic as a carte blanche to roll out even more draconian methods and overtly telegraph their abuses.”

According to Amnesty’s 2019 report, governments in the region have pursued “extensive offensives” to silence activists and political opponents. Peaceful rallies continue to be unlawful, resulting in police violence and criminal prosecution against protestors. Despite government crackdowns, people continue to fight for ways to end corruption, improve living standards, and freely express themselves.