December 8 2022 11:33 PM E-paper Subscribe Sign in My Account Sign out

National Council for Human Rights weighs in on pandemic’s impacts on civil rights

(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Extraordinary measures taken by states globally to slow the transmission of COVID-19, including such extreme measures as imposing extensive lockdowns and restricting freedom of movement have led — in the process — to unintended consequences that limited people’s freedom to enjoy many other human rights.اضافة اعلان

The impact of COVID-19 restrictions however was pre-eminently felt in countries that generally don’t score high on the human rights index, like Jordan, where there are, to date, a total of 35 enacted defense orders, chiefly affecting Jordanians and residents’ freedom of movement and expression.

The impact of the defense orders had Jordan fall back on the Economist Group’s Democracy Index by four points, scoring 3.62 on the scale of 10. The index calculates several sub-indicators, such as the electoral system, political pluralism, government performance, political participation, and the political environment, among others.

Alaa Armouti, commissioner general of the National Center for Human Rights told Jordan News the Jordan’s losing points on the index in light of the defense orders was not unexpected. In the first 45 days of the pandemic; during lockdowns and curfews, defense measures were not particularly considerate of certain emergency situations, like hospital visits, court procedures, and detentions by law enforcement officers.

“We at the NCHR believe that many of the restrictions were not warranted,” Armouti said.

The NCHR has harshly criticized the impact of the defense orders on freedom of expression and press, when peaceful protests and gatherings were banned, “despite the fact that those freedoms are protected rights under the Constitution,” Armouti said, adding that the Interior Ministry was the party to ban gatherings, rather than just observe the protest and make sure that the participants follow social distancing instructions.

The defense orders also imposed restrictions on the meetings of political parties and unions, but not on tribesmen meetings; postponed union elections but allowed parliamentary elections, according to Armouti.

Armouti said that Jordan must respect all signed human rights treaties and conventions, and should commit to the rights of citizens that are protected under the Constitution.

“We have to realize that preserving human rights does not overlap with national security. Human rights have to be positioned at the core of national security. It should not be manipulated or dismissed,” Armouti said. The status quo will negatively impact the economy since it depends on foreign aid, and donor countries are concerned about human right scores, he added.

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