Amnesty’s newly appointed Secretary-General Agnes Callamard, known for her former role as the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions, criticized the global leadership for the unfair distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. The French human rights advocate has previously investigated the Saudi-sponsored assassination of the WaPo journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, questioned Putin’s detention of Kremlin critic Navalny and extrajudicial killings ordered by the powerful head of the states.
In a 400 page report published by Amnesty International, Amnesty’s Secretary-General condemned vaccine equity, which she described as a burning global issue that has stripped personal freedoms and human rights as the pandemic rages on. She also took aim at the government in China, Russia, and Myanmar for using the COVID-19 lockdown as “an excuse” to exercise authoritarianism on citizens. She further berated the US and UK law enforcement systems for quelling freedom of expression and democratic opinions with the use of force, intimidation, and coercion against the citizens.
In a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday, Callamard said that the distribution of vaccines fairly and equitably to all countries of the world was the only assured means of ending the coronavirus pandemic. The French human rights expert denounced the act of hoarding the vaccines by what she described the “powerful” and wealthier nations, while the less financially privileged nations such as those in the African continent suffered.
“What we found is that the victims of COVID, whether it was in the U.K., in France, in the U.S., in India, in the Middle East, in Brazil, those victims were primarily among the most disenfranchised and vulnerable groups," Amnesty Secretary General Agnes Callamard said in an interview with AP. “As a global community, as a national community, we failed the test that COVID-19 represented.”
“Not only do we buy everything, but on top of it, we stop others from being able to produce it. In the name of what? In the name of profit and in the name of greed,” Callamard told AP, referring to the European Union and US’ proposal that blocked relaxation of intellectual property on patents related to coronavirus treatments and vaccines.
Callamard reflected on the similar concerns voiced earlier by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres who called the vaccine distribution gap between rich and poor nations a catastrophic moral failure. Furthermore, an Amnesty International report also outlined, "Nine out of ten people in poor countries are set to miss out on COVID-19 vaccine even next year.” Rich countries have hoarded enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly 3 times over, it alleged. “Wealthier nations have bought up enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over by the end of 2021 if those currently in clinical trials are all approved for use," the report stated.