Covid-19 and human rights don’t mix

The coronavirus did bring into question the risk of granting freedoms and the benefits of having tight controls over a county's citizens, says the writer.
The coronavirus did bring into question the risk of granting freedoms and the benefits of having tight controls over a county's citizens, says the writer.
Image: 123RF/perig76

Only a few months ago, the response to the coronavirus proved that human rights and freedoms are not unshakable, God-given truths.

Even the anti-religious conviction that each human being has complete ownership over his or her body to do whatever they like with it, was set aside without protest or need for a referendum.

Certainly, even the staunchest advocates of human rights forgot about their convictions and instead went to hide at home without any debates. Only the doctors and essential workers who were also terrified confronted the pandemic.

Even so, these are not the most vocal supporters of human rights. Without a doubt, the virus – or any disease, for that matter – does not inquire if a person believes in rights ... if there is no adequate protection, sickness may occur. Be that as it may, the coronavirus did bring into question the risk of granting freedoms and the benefits of having tight controls over a county's citizens.

Such contrast is graphically displayed in the case of the US and China. China, which has been accused of being a dictatorial regime, rightfully so, nevertheless did a better job in managing the spread of the coronavirus than the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The one thing that remains, though, is the reality that guaranteed freedoms and human rights are not guaranteed after all, and in fact can be taken away if needs be, by the powers that be. The question, then, could be: what limits are there against such an ability and what critic is still valid against authoritarianism?

Khotso Moleko, Bloemfontein

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