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Latest COVID-19 updates

    May 13, 2020

    The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating existing gender inequalities as lockdowns lead to higher rates of gender-based violence, less access to sexual and reproductive health services, increased unpaid care work, and much more. Not all women, girls, and gender diverse people are experiencing the pandemic in the same way. Women with disabilities, refugee and migrant women, Indigenous and minority women, LBTI women, women experiencing discrimination based on work and women living in poverty face heightened risks of discrimination, violence, and other rights violations. A pandemic is not an excuse to violate women’s rights!

    Read on to learn more!

    April 24, 2020

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s understandable that many of us are glued to our screens, scrolling through what can seem like endless newsfeeds, updates and headlines relating to the current crisis. Social media is now a window into current events all across the world, and when everyone’s attention is on one topic, it is understandable that consumers might reach ‘information overload’.

    At Amnesty International we have extensive experience of dealing with traumatic stories and images - unfortunately this comes with the job of exposing human rights abuses. But experiencing these stories and images can cause what specialists call ‘vicarious trauma’, where we can feel real personal emotional responses to what we are viewing on our screens, even when it hasn’t directly happened to us. While vicarious trauma is a worst case scenario, it's very normal for everyone to be feeling some emotional distress at the moment, and we need to be aware of that and take care of ourselves and others.

    April 19, 2020

    The world can feel overwhelming right now. As we strive to create a more just and equitable future, we can struggle at this time to know where to start.

    While we are engaged in physical distancing, we will find new and creative ways to care for ourselves, our loved ones, and our local and global communities.

    Here are some simple things you can do to help out:

    April 18, 2020

    May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day around the world. During a global health emergency, a robust media environment doesn’t just mean reporting on the nature and spread of COVID-19, it makes life saving information broadly accessible. And as emergency measures are increasingly used, journalists help hold authorities to account by documenting overreach, providing analysis, engaging in debate about government actions, and sparking dialogue about the different future we all hope to see.

    April 17, 2020

    With much of the world on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are relying on our phones, laptops and other devices to stay connected. While cyber-surveillance is a longstanding threat to human rights defenders and others, this new normal means options for using physical security alternatives (like simply communicating sensitive information in person rather than online) are seriously diminished. This raises the human rights stakes. It can mean everyone has more exposure to cyber-attacks and scammers who are seeking to exploit the outbreak. Here are six top tips on how to keep safe online.

    1. Update phone, computer and apps

    Your devices and any programmes that communicate with the internet should be up to date to reduce the risk of attack. Most browsers update automatically but look at the apps you use to read documents or view photos and videos you have found online.

    If you are using old versions of these apps it is more likely there will be bugs that can leave your devices vulnerable.

    April 14, 2020

    Indigenous communities are working to ensure the safety of their members in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Different communities face different threats and challenges and they are developing effective solutions based on the needs of the people and the resources at hand. Many are in need of better healthcare equipment and services, many have concerns about over-crowded housing, while people are checking-in with elders, sharing food and traditional medicines, and creating emergency plans. 

    Amnesty will be featuring different communities, their worries, and the solutions they have developed in the face of COVID-19. We will also connect activists with opportunities to advocate for Indigenous rights to ensure that everyone gets the help they need during the pandemic. 

    We begin with an introduction to Kelly Lake Cree Nation, a community of 800 people on the border between northern British Columbia and Alberta. 

    April 11, 2020
    Protecting communities, supporting workers and their families should be Canada's priority

    The global pandemic is a frightening time for humanity. Yet all around us, people are working hard to adapt to our current reality, support one another, protect the vulnerable, and together dream of a better future. In urging all levels of government to respect human rights and protect essential workers and their families, frontline healthcare workers, and communities, we are speaking together with one, unified voice. 

    People across Canada living in remote, rural and Indigenous communities with lesser access to health services, hospital beds and crucially, ventilators to help the critically ill, are calling on all of us to help them shut down the known pathways of infection into their communities.  They are asking us to help them stay healthy by staying away. 

    April 05, 2020

    Across Brazil, many Indigenous peoples have gone into voluntary isolation, barricading access roads to protect their villages from the COVID-19 pandemic. As one Indigenous nurse recently told Amnesty International by telephone: “I explain the importance of not leaving our villages. We are over 400 people in this Indigenous territory. If one person gets COVID-19, it can contaminate us all.” 

    Worries about the spread of the virus among Indigenous peoples have increased, as this week the first case among Brazil’s Indigenous peoples was confirmed: in Amazonas state, a 20-year-old Indigenous Kokama woman tested positive for the virus. 

    April 03, 2020

    People across the world are currently facing an unprecedented global health emergency due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Technology can and should play an important role during this effort to save lives, including by spreading public health messages and increasing access to health care. However, in the name of combatting the disease, some governments are rushing to expand their use of surveillance technologies to track individuals and even entire populations.

    If left unchecked and unchallenged, these measures have the potential to fundamentally alter the future of privacy and other human rights.

    Is surveillance to tackle COVID-19 legal?

    March 30, 2020

    David Griffiths is Director of the Office of the Secretary General at Amnesty's International Secretariat in London, England

    The pain of the COVID-19 pandemic, a defining event of our times, will continue long after the virus subsides. When the immediate crisis is over many will have experienced unimaginable loss.

    Many will have lost loved ones, huge numbers will have lost jobs and perhaps homes, and hundreds of millions will have experienced the anxiety and loneliness of social isolation.

    But we will have gained something too –  a choice.

    When we emerge from this collective trauma we can choose to go back to our old trajectory. Or, we can learn from this experience and make different choices for the future.

    Every person on the planet has a stake in fighting this virus. As Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), put it, “we have an unprecedented opportunity to come together as one against a common enemy: an enemy against humanity”.

    March 19, 2020

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

    This article originally appeared in The Toronto Star., March 19, 2020.

    Amidst the uncertainty and fear that has taken hold globally as the scope and impact of the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, we cannot lose sight that human rights principles are essential to all aspects of this crisis.

    And already people everywhere are responding in ways that resonate with the universal human rights vision, through compassion, community and putting others first.

    As many of us hunker down in the safety of our homes, health care, transportation, grocery store, sanitation and other workers head out to ensure that we are supported.

    More broadly, people are looking out for friends and neighbours, and are refraining from actions that may put others at risk or impede efforts to contain the pandemic. That starts with the simple act of staying home and getting out of the way of the virus.

    March 19, 2020

    Early on during the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, the hashtag “I want freedom of speech” trended on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform similar to Twitter and Instagram. It was quickly removed, and anyone using it blocked.

    China’s move to initially cover up the crisis and restrict valuable public health information swelled online criticism of the government. The existing system of surveillance and censorship ramped up in response. But Chinese netizens fought back, substituting “sensitive words” for alternatives on a daily basis. At one point, images of pandas were used to represent the domestic security bureau, and “Ministry of Truth” (from George Orwell’s novel 1984) substituted for the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department. Journalists, students, and activists developed a rapidly expanding alternative dictionary to keep ahead of the censors.
    Censorship and surveillance in China are hardly news. Their impact during the current pandemic, however, highlights why the focus can’t simply be on expanding health services and enforcing quarantines by any means necessary. 

    March 16, 2020

    News about COVID-19 in Canada and around the world is at the forefront of all our minds.

    While we are and should be engaging in physical distancing from each other, now more than ever is the time for social solidarity.  

    COVID-19 will have serious human rights impacts that are only just emerging and will exacerbate existing inequalities and human rights violations. We must continue our critical human rights work while not contributing to the transmission of this virus or the panic surrounding it.

    Here are some ways that you can take action and organize in the time of COVID-19:


    The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will not affect us all equally. The virus and state responses to it will exacerbate existing human rights violations, such as chronic underfunding of services for Indigenous communities here in Canada and the reality that many Indigenous communities in Canada remain without safe, running water.