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‘We failed the test’ of Covid-19, says human rights champion

PARIS — Agnès Callamard is finest identified for her investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and has made a profession uncovering extrajudicial killings.

The French human rights knowledgeable’s deal with rights abuses is taking over new dimensions as she assumes management of Amnesty International and turns her consideration to what she says is one of the world’s most urgent points — vaccine fairness to finish the coronavirus pandemic, which has eroded freedoms globally.

Amnesty International launched its annual report on Wednesday, arguing that governments have used the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to clamp down on human rights, whether or not or not that was the unique intent. The wide-ranging report took explicit goal at governments in Myanmar and Russia, amongst others, but in addition critiqued the use of coronavirus-related police powers in locations like Britain and the United States towards protesters.

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The solely technique to finish the virus — and the abuses which have accompanied it, primarily towards the world’s most weak — is to distribute vaccines globally and equitably, she instructed The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“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,” she said. “As a global community, as a national community, we failed the test that Covid-19 represented.”

Agnes Callamard answers questions on a report of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Geneva in 2019.Fabrice Coffrini / AFP – Getty Images file

Callamard rarely hesitates to call out the powerful. In 2019, as a U.N. special rapporteur, she concluded there was “credible evidence” that Khashoggi’s killing was state-sanctioned. She also investigated the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and concluded it was unlawful. Earlier this week, she said there was a real risk that Russia was subjecting opposition leader Alexei Navalny to “a slow death.”

She said she will no longer lead her own investigations, as she has done for years for the U.N. — but will continue to call out human rights violations as she sees them. And the pandemic exposed plenty. Ending it, she said, will expose even more, especially among wealthy and powerful nations which have purchased more vaccines than they need.

“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 said, referring to the European Union and U.S. decision to block a proposal to relax intellectual property restrictions on patents related to coronavirus treatments and vaccines.

One of her proposals falls along the same lines as the Biden administration’s call this week for a minimum global corporate income tax. In a foreword to Amnesty’s report that she wrote before Monday’s announcement by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Callamard said the global taxation system had produced more losers than winners.

“Global taxation is a way of rebalancing equality,” she said. “It’s a manner of guaranteeing that it’s not at all times those that have the least who’re requested to offer the most.”

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