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ACHPR Expresses Concern Over Use Of COVID-19 Restrictions To Shrink Civic Spaces

The commission enjoined state actors to respect various pacts that they were signatories to, in executing regulations.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), in its 31st extraordinary session, which held virtually between 19th and 25th of February 2021, enjoined countries to respect human rights in making COVID-19 regulations. 

ACHPR enjoined state parties to ensure that measures taken as part of national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are not used to discriminate, stigmatize or target particular individuals or groups, including civil society organizations and human rights defenders.

Speaking on the importance of respecting human rights under the charter, the commission said, “the  civic space is as necessary for those who govern as it is for those who are governed and that it is the very basis of life in society.”

“The importance of civic space is not just crucial to the development and survival of civic society, but constitute a vibrant society where debate  and discussions flourish.”

The commission, also alarmed by the different violence and targeted policies launched to frustrate activism, further enjoined states to adopt legislative and other measures that will guarantee that civic rights are protected under what constitutes civic space according to the charter.

Furthermore, the commission, “urge[d] states to refrain from using the State of Emergency Declarations related to COVID-19 or the fight against terrorism to justify the introduction of repressive measures to restrict the freedoms that constitute the civic space.”

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