Activist Post Editor’s Note: U.S. immigration detention centers are often the prime focus of people’s outrage; and, to be sure, there are plenty of reasons for that, including recent accusations of forced sterilizations (See: “Shocking Number of Women in ICE Facility Were Sterilized Against Their Will, Nurse Reveals.”
However, it’s important to remember that the government response to COVID is truly a global outrage and has resulted in countless other grave abuses of basic human rights beyond the U.S. As you’ll read below, people in various parts of Latin America have been detained in warehouses, sports stadiums and other makeshift facilities. Often they are people who already have suffered from the economic fallout and have been caught up in various dragnets as they flee or return from oppressive conditions. It could make a person wonder if it’s really all about #SavingLives.
Op-Ed by Duncan Tucker – CuencaHighLife, Ecuador
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, authorities in Venezuela, El Salvador and Paraguay have held tens of thousands of people in inadequate state-run quarantine centres without sufficient safeguards against human rights violations, in what could amount to ill-treatment and risk the detentions becoming arbitrary, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.
When protection becomes repression: Mandatory quarantines under COVID-19 in the Americas documents how the authorities in three countries have disproportionately held migrants, refugees, people returning to their countries of origin, and low-income communities in state-run quarantines, often in unsanitary and sometimes inhumane conditions without adequate food, water and medical care, which may amount to ill-treatment. The appalling conditions stand to make them counterproductive spaces where people are at risk of contracting COVID-19.
“In many parts of the world, authorities have asked people to stay at home or voluntarily quarantine to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19. But when states lock up tens of thousands of people without ensuring each detention is necessary and proportionate, detain them in appalling conditions under military or police supervision, and discriminate against them or use the quarantine as punishment, they convert a public health intervention into a punitive and repressive tactic,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.