FIDH in times of Coronavirus – Message from Ms Alice Mogwe
17, passage de la Main d’Or
10 April 2020
At a time when the world is facing an unprecedented crisis with an uncertain outcome, and when a large majority of us are confined in our homes for several weeks, I wanted to express my support for you and to remind you that the FIDH is more than ever, by your side.
We know that our situations, in relation to COVID-19, are deeply worrying. These are exacerbated in some countries more than in others, due to the limited state of their health infrastructure, medical, financial and human resources. We hold them closely, in solidarity.
During these difficult times, we, the member organisations of the FIDH, have a crucial role to play to ensure that this pandemic and the resulting measures taken by government, do not open a new door to violations of human rights and individual freedoms. We have an even greater duty than usual, to be vigilant. The standards of proportionality and non-discrimination are key where extraordinary measures are taken by States and the COVID-19 virus is used as justification for the suspension of the respect and protection of human rights.
In this regard, the International Secretariat has undertaken several actions to support our member organisations and to monitor human rights violations:
1) On 20 March 2020, communication was sent to you and to our partners explaining how the IS will continue to work in spite of our colleagues being confined to their homes, working remotely and implementing the travel ban. We have found a way to adapt to these new circumstances in order to continue implementing some of our activities.
2) We sent the following political statementsto our partners and media to indicate our human rights approach to the COVID-19 and responses to it:
• On 27 March 2020 – “Covid19 – Prioritising human rights and protecting the most vulnerable”
• On 7 April 2020 – calling for the release of prisoners in detention centres
3) Our Observatory team has continued to send urgent appeals to protect human rights defenders. We have acted on several statements from our member organisations from all over the world. Please find a few examples of these below:
4) On 8 April 2020, we launched a global campaign (FIDH + 86 member organisations) calling for the release of Human Rights Defenders.
5) A working group has been set up within the International Secretariat, to closely monitor and document, in connection with you of course, violations of human rights and individual freedoms. More information about this initiative will be sent to you in the coming days.
Finally and as I undertook to do as President, the International Secretariat has established a Task Force to reflect on strengthening communication and interaction with its member organisations (the engagement mechanism). Draft terms of reference will be presented to the next International Board meeting. Summary Minutes from our first International Board (March 2020) will be sent to you soon.
Your organisations, and all those who work within them, are the raison d’être of the FIDH. I know that together we will be able to continue to ensure the protection of human rights, in spite of these challenging circumstances.
I wish you all, and you loved ones, the courage to face these difficult days. Please do take care of yourselves, your families and your colleagues.