The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called for easing or suspension of “sectoral sanctions” against countries including Iran to allow their medical systems to fight the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and limit its global spread. Following is a reprint of the UN press release with Commissioner Bachelet’s comments.
GENEVA (24 March 2020) – Broad sectoral sanctions should urgently be re-evaluated in countries facing the coronavirus pandemic, in light of their potentially debilitating impact on the health sector and human rights, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Tuesday.
“It is vital to avoid the collapse of any country’s medical system – given the explosive impact that will have on death, suffering and wider contagion,” Bachelet said. “At this crucial time, both for global public health reasons, and to support the rights and lives of millions of people in these countries, sectoral sanctions should be eased or suspended. In a context of global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us.”
“Humanitarian exemptions to sanctions measures should be given broad and practical effect, with prompt, flexible authorization for essential medical equipment and supplies,” Bachelet said.
For example, in Iran, where at least 1,800 people have died from COVID-19, human rights reports have repeatedly emphasized the impact of sectoral sanctions on access to essential medicines and medical equipment – including respirators and protective equipment for health-care workers.
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