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Inequality and Discrimination


The Covid-19 pandemic poses a real threat to Indigenous Peoples’ health and livelihoods worldwide. Governments should take specific measures to support Indigenous communities in strengthening their capacities and resilience in preventing health risks and the meltdown of their local economy as well as to ensure the respect of their human rights. In this sense, it is key that Indigenous communities have appropriate access to health and social services, that Indigenous local authorities are able to protect their territories from the spread of the virus, and that information and services are provided in indigenous languages and in an appropriate and intercultural way. Finally, particular attention should be paid notably to Indigenous human rights defenders, Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation and Indigenous persons with disabilities whose vulnerability increases disproportionately during this pandemic.


International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

IWGIA – International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs


Public health measures recently taken by governments in response to containing and limiting the spread of the novel Coronavirus have impacted different minority groups in different ways. In every society, emergency measures can combine with existing vulnerabilities to cause real harm to minorities; indeed, this has been saliently felt by ethnic and religious minorities around the world who are often economically and socially marginalised. It has been reported that in developed countries such as the United States as well as the United Kingdom, a disproportionate amount of ethnic minorities have contracted COVID-19, subsequently shining a spotlight upon the social inequalities present within such countries and raising questions about what those governments are doing to address such issues. In other countries such as Turkey and South Korea, religious minorities have faced the brunt of religious discrimination and hate speech by the majority community with the former being labelled as ‘carriers’ of the virus. Governments must address any surge in religious hate speech and entho-religious discrimination as a matter of urgency, while Embassies are urged to monitor any increase in these phenomenons, and to raise concerns with Governments if they are left unaddressed.

Amnesty International


Human Rights Without Frontiers


Due to the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many human rights are affected by restrictions, including the right to Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB). In the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights, FoRB is guaranteed in Article 10 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes, inter alia the freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or in private, to manifest one’s religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance. The community aspects of this right are seriously affected by measures aimed at protecting public health, especially such measures as restrict physical assemblies, including cultic and educational activities of Communities of Faith or Belief. As a fundamental right, FoRB cannot not be fully derogated by states even in times of public emergency or war, but also necessary, suitable and proportionate restrictions can put such communities under severe strains, including discrimination, and need to be adapted regularly so as to cause the least possible harm.

CEC Conference of European Churches


Caste discrimination affects an estimated 260 million people worldwide, the vast majority living in South Asia. It involves massive violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Caste systems divide people into unequal and hierarchical social groups. Those at the bottom are considered ‘lesser human beings’, ‘impure’ and ‘polluting’ to other caste groups. They are known to be ‘untouchable’ and subjected to so-called ‘untouchability practices’ in both public and private spheres. ‘Untouchables’ – known in South Asia as Dalits – are often forcibly assigned the most dirty, menial and hazardous jobs, and many are subjected to forced and bonded labour. Due to exclusion practiced by both state and non-state actors, they have limited access to resources, services and development, keeping most Dalits in severe poverty.

The division of a society into castes is a global phenomenon not exclusively practised within any particular religion or belief system. In South Asia, caste discrimination is traditionally rooted in the Hindu caste system, according to which Dalits are considered ‘outcasts’. However, caste systems and the ensuing discrimination have spread into Christian, Buddhist, Muslim and Sikh communities. They are also found in Africa, other parts of Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific and in Diaspora communities.

International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN)


Persons with disabilities already faced major access barriers to healthcare, education, income-generating employment, and social support schemes. COVID-19 is exacerbating these challenges. Furthermore, persons with disabilities face higher risks to contract the coronavirus and develop serious complications. They might face discrimination and confront obstacles to accessing information, prevention and response measures as well as disrupted personal assistance and care networks. Additionally, the intersection of multiple exclusionary factors (like gender, age, disability) often results in multiple discrimination and significantly restricted access to services. The most marginalised often endure multiple and intersecting deprivations, which perpetuate and entrench obstacles to the full realisation of their human rights.


International Disability Alliance (IDA)

 Light for the World International

Save the Children

Protection International




International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)