Eight countries, including India, ask UN Human Rights Commissioner to be responsible amid COVID-19 crisis

Eight countries, including India, ask UN Human Rights Commissioner to be responsible amid COVID-19 crisis

Eight countriesm led by India and Indonesia, have written to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) under the United Nations, asking it to play a responsible role amidst the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis around the world. 

The joint letter was written by the permanent missions of India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam in Geneva to the OHCHR after the latter issued a release entitled "Asia: Bachelet alarmed by clampdown on freedom of expression during COVID-19".

The joint press release said,"the primary focus of our governments in these unprecedented times is to ensure that precious lives, particularly of the most vulnerable, are not lost to COVID-19. The OHCHR needs to recognize this and play a responsible role in a manner that adds to rather than detracts from such efforts"

Recalling the consensus resolution of the World Health Assembly meeting of the World Health Organisation (WHO) last month stating member states should provide "the population with reliable and comprehensive information...take measures to counter information and disinformation".

Further explaining, respective governments "have taken necessary measures, in accordance with our prevailing laws and regulations, to hold those who spread misinformation and mislead the public accountable for their irresponsible actions" and this has been carried out "in accordance with the due process of law while aslo safeguarding the freedom of expression".

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet had criticised 12 countries in Asia over the suppression of freedom of expression in the garb of dealing with misinformation amidst the COVID-19 crisis and suggested them to take the “least intrusive approach required to achieve that result".