'We failed the test' of Covid-19, says human rights champion

PARIS – Agnès Callamard is best known for her investigation into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and has had a career exposing extrajudicial murders.

The French human rights expert’s focus on rights violations takes on new heights as she takes the helm of Amnesty International and turns her attention to what she believes is one of the world’s most pressing problems – vaccine equality to end the coronavirus pandemic, that has undermined freedoms globally.

Amnesty International released its annual report on Wednesday on the grounds that governments used the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to contain human rights, whether or not it was originally intended. The far-reaching report was particularly aimed at governments in Myanmar and Russia, but also criticized the use of police forces against protesters in connection with coronavirus in countries like the UK and the United States.

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The only way to end the virus – and its related abuses, especially against the world’s most vulnerable – is to distribute vaccines fairly and globally around the world, she told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“We found that whether in the UK, France, the US, India, the Middle East or Brazil, victims of Covid were primarily among the most disenfranchised and vulnerable groups,” she said: “As a global one Community, as a national community, we failed the test that Covid-19 was. “

Agnes Callamard answers questions about a report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Geneva in 2019.Fabrice Coffrini / AFP – Getty Images File

Callamard rarely hesitates to summon the mighty. As the United States’ Special Rapporteur in 2019, she concluded that there was “credible evidence” that Khashoggi’s assassination was state sanctioned. It also investigated the US drone attack that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and concluded that it was illegal. Earlier this week, she said there was a real risk that Russia would subject opposition leader Alexei Navalny to “a slow death.”

She said she will no longer conduct her own investigation, as she has done for the United States for years – but will continue to declare human rights violations as she sees it. And the pandemic has revealed a lot. The ending, she said, will uncover even more, especially among wealthy and powerful nations who have bought more vaccines than they need.

“We not only buy everything, but also prevent others from producing it. In the name of what? In the name of gain and in the name of greed, “Callamard said, referring to the decision by the European Union and the US to block a proposal to relax intellectual property restrictions on patents related to coronavirus treatments and vaccines.

'We failed the test' of Covid-19, says human rights champion 1

One of their proposals corresponds to the Biden government’s call this week for a global minimum corporate tax. In a foreword to Amnesty’s report, written before Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s announcement on Monday, Callamard said the global tax system has produced more losers than winners.

“Global taxes are a way to rebalance equality,” she said. “This ensures that those who have the least are not always asked to give the most.”

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