CENTRAL ASIA: HUMAN RIGHTS ROTECTION DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: KEY TRENDS
The global Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in growing restrictions on fundamental rights in Central Asia, as the authorities of the region have limited such rights in ways that go beyond what is justified on public health grounds. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and its Central Asian partners have documented this alarming trend as part of an initiative to monitor the human rights impact of governments’ handling of the pandemic. The governments of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan quickly introduced emergency regimes as the Covid-19 pandemic spread to their countries, while Uzbekistan enforced a strict lockdown without declaring any state of emergency. By contrast, the governments of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan adopted a policy of denial, claiming that the pandemic had not reached their countries. Tajikistan’s government later acknowledged the spread of Covid-19, but Turkmenistan’s government has continued to deny and cover up the evident Covid-19 outbreak in this country. Despite these differences in government approach, human rights protection has deteriorated across the region because of measures taken in response to the pandemic or pushed through in its shadow. Monitoring by IPHR and its partners shows that Central Asian authorities have sought to stifle
discussion on Covid-19 on media and social media platforms; intimidated and harassed those critical of government responses to the pandemic; and pushed ahead with controversial laws negatively affecting civil society and the media without proper discussion and consultation. While failing to
ensure adequate protection against Covid-19 among medical professionals and patients, authorities have gone after medical workers raising their voices on such issues. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of the national health care systems, aggravated the problem of domestic
violence, and reinforced concerns about prisoners and other vulnerable groups of the population across Central Asia. These and other key issues are described in the country summaries below. Additional information can be found in the country reports listed at the end of the summaries.