A group of UN independent Human Rights experts have called on countries to lift or atleast ease the sanctions to allow affected nations and communities’ access to vital supplies to fight against the global coronavirus pandemic.
They said that people in countries under sanctions are not able to protect themselves against Coronavirus or get life saving treatment if they fall ill as humanitarian exemptions to the sanctions are not working.
Alena Douhan, special rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, pointed out that sanctions were bringing suffering and death in countries like Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. “Sanctions should be lifted – or at a minimum eased – so people can get basics like soap and disinfectants to stay healthy, and so that hospitals can get ventilators and other equipment to keep people alive,” she said.
She said that a call for lifting the sanctions was given earlier but had not found any takers. “Sanctions that were imposed in the name of delivering human rights are in fact killing people and depriving them of fundamental rights, including the rights to health, to food and to life itself,” said Douhan and other UN experts.
The UN independent Human Rights experts also welcomed the efforts by several countries, intergovernmental organizations and NGOs for trying to help sanctioned countries fight COVID-19. “We particularly welcome the willingness of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Russia, China, the United States and other donors to ship much needed medical supplies,” they said.
They noted that licenses for delivery of humanitarian aid should be provided in the easiest way to guarantee human rights and solidarity in the course of the pandemic. These should be given preferably automatically upon request, Douhan said. “Individuals and humanitarian organizations involved in the delivery of such aid should in no way be subjected to secondary sanctions,” she said.
Along with Douhan, the others who made the appeal include Obiora Okafor (Independent Expert on human rights and International solidarity), Tlaleng Mofokeng (Special Rapporteur on the Right to Physical; and Mental Health) Michael Fakhri (Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food) and Agnès Callamard (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial summary).
The Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts are part special procedures of Human Rights Council.