In its latest annual report detailing the state of human rights across the world, Amnesty International denounces world leaders for weaponising the Covid-19 pandemic to ramp up their assault on basic rights, while failing to stand up to the challenges posed by the coronavirus.
In the 400-page report published yesterday, Amnesty's newly appointed Secretary General Agnes Callamard described 2020 as "366 days that saw the fostering of lethal selfishness, cowardice, mediocrity, and toxic failures from xenophobia and racial hatred".
The Amnesty report said richer countries were failing a "rudimentary" test of global solidarity by hoarding Covid vaccines as it accused China and others of exploiting the pandemic to undermine human rights.
According to an AFP count, more than half the 680 million-plus doses administered worldwide have been in high-income countries, such as the US, Britain and Israel, while the poorest have received only 0.1 percent of the doses.
The report also highlighted how repressive regimes around the world used the pandemic as an excuse to suppress basic human rights.
"Some (leaders) have tried to normalise the overbearing emergency measures they've ushered in to combat Covid-19, whilst a particularly virulent strain of leader has gone a step further," Callamard, who served as United Nations' special rapporteur, said.
"They have seen this as an opportunity to entrench their own power. Instead of supporting and protecting people, they have simply weaponised the pandemic to wreak havoc on people's rights," she added.
Amnesty said during the health emergency, groups like women and migrants had been further marginalised in parts of the world.
"We face a world in disarray. At this point in the pandemic, even the most deluded leaders would struggle to deny that our social, economic and political systems are broken," Callamard said.
"2020 is the history of who had less, gave the most and received the least. On the other hand, the leaders of the world, whether political or commercial, failed us," she added.