By Neeraj Nanda
MELBOURNE, 28 April 2021: Amnesty International Australia has expressed concern over the human rights situation in India due to the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter to Hon. Senator Marise Payne, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Amnesty’s National Director Sam Klintworth says,” My thoughts and condolences are with the many dead, and their families. Australia has an important role to play in helping our neighbour and ally protect its citizen’s right to health.”
“The right to health is the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and is enshrined in article 12(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which India is a signatory. The UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights has stated that health is a fundamental human right indispensable for the exercise of other human rights. Every human being is entitled to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health conducive to living a life in dignity, ” Mr. Sam says.
The letter also raises the issue of about 10,000 stranded Australians in India, urging the government to find a way to bring these people home as soon as possible.
The issue of ‘freedom of expression is also raised in the letter. Mr. Sam says, ” I am also concerned about a statement from India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology which confirmed that it ordered Twitter, Facebook and others to take down roughly 100
social media posts. A spokesperson from Twitter confirmed the order to block content while Facebook is yet to comment on the issue. Twitter did not specify which content it had taken down but media reports suggest the tweets were criticizing the governments’ response to the crisis and included posts by politicians and other public figures.”
(The Indian High Commission, Canberra has been contacted for a response and an answer is awaited)
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Letter source- Amnesty International, Australia