NHRI responses to the COVID-19 pandemic

OHCHR-National Institutions Section has compiled a table with NHRI responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The document is intended to share good practices of NHRI work across regions. This information will be updated periodically, based on information sent by NHRIs and OHCHR field presences.

The main actions undertaken by NHRIs include: advising governments by issuing statements and recommendations on how to respond to the pandemic while protecting human rights; issuing guidance to governments on the importance of applying specific and targeted measures to protect the most vulnerable groups in society; monitoring the implementation of  emergency measures; monitoring human rights in general and the right to health specifically; sharing information with right holders about protection of human rights standards during the pandemic and their rights; ensuring virtual access to NHRI services during lockdown;

Below is a brief analysis of the common trending issues arising:

  • Access: Most NHRIs have a Covid-19 dedicated page on their website, some have made their services accessible during the lockdown through call centres, and hotlines, where they receive calls and complaints, give advice to the public and refer specific complaints. Several NHRIs have used social media platforms to inform and receive information from the public
  • Advice:  NHRIs have issued statements urging governments to protect the most vulnerable and exposed groups of people, such as older persons, women, children, and persons with disability, migrants, and people living in poverty, persons in places of deprivation of liberty.
  • Most NHRIs reaffirmed in their statements that human rights restrictions imposed in emergency responses must be necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory, and that human rights and equality principles should inform their implementation;
  •  Some NHRIs have engaged with parliamentary committees and government bodies on draft legislation and policies related to the lockdowns, including new restrictions such as quarantine and isolation.
  • NHRIs have outlined how measures taken must respect the principle of equal treatment in areas such as employment, social security, health care,  provision of goods, services and education;
  • Vulnerable groups: Particular attention has been directed towards the increasing risk of domestic violence in conditions of isolation imposed by Covid-19; some NHRIs called on governments to integrate specific prevention measures on this issue in their strategies to combat Coronavirus.
  • Governments have been urged by NHRIs to prioritise providing health care and appropriate housing for homeless people during the CoVID-19 pandemic;
  • Monitoring the human rights situation in general and places of detention: During the coronavirus pandemic, many NHRIs are monitoring quarantine spaces and places of detention, including the access to health care provided in there.
  • Monitoring health facilities: Some NHRIs have monitored health centres and institutions, with due regard to the access to health care, the availability medicines for vulnerable groups and protective equipment for medical teams.
  • NHRIs have requested governments to continue to ensure that adequate health care is provided for patients who are not infected with coronavirus.
  • The GANHRI has a dedicated page where NHRIs can share information and good practices; NHRI regional networks /Secretariats have issued press statements on their websites in relation to the pandemic, and have dedicated pages with information.