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Alba Iulia
Thursday, October 22, 2020

Africans and world citizens resist COVID dictatorships

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The world’s peoples must join hands to frustrate the emergence of legalised tyranny by unconscionable politicians and their security minions using the Coronavirus pandemic to further brutalise the civil populace.

In South Africa maniac politicians and their president Ramaphosa are bragging about preeminence of state power as coronavirus curfew slide into chaos. Everywhere, police officers have been seen on mobile phone footage whacking people with batons and shooting rubber bullets.
Zimbabwe police and army on the orders of President Mnangagwa have seized the occasion of Covid-19 lockdown to molest and degrade citizens caught during curfew.
The killing in Warri Nigeria of a 28 year old youth by a soldier drafted by the regime of retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari under the pretext of national lockdown did not elicit any outrage from that country’s government. On every pretext the Nigerian government unleashes a disdainful pack of the Nigerian army upon citizens with a view ranging from election rigging to intimidation and suppression  of popular movements.
It is being suggested, as a step in universal accountability, that any state governor, municipal chair, or president in Africa, who orders and promotes the use of violence or shooting at civilians during the lockdown should be made to face the International Criminal Court (ICC)
As New York Times analyst, Selam Gebrekidan, writes,

For Autocrats, and Others, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Power

Leaders around the world have passed emergency decrees and legislation expanding their reach during the pandemic. Will they ever relinquish them?

LONDON — In Hungary, the prime minister can now rule by decree. In Britain, ministers have what a critic called “eye-watering” power to detain people and close borders. Israel’s prime minister has shut down courts and begun an intrusive surveillance of citizens . Chile has sent the military to public squares once occupied by protesters. Bolivia has postponed elections.

As the coronavirus pandemic brings the world to a juddering halt and anxious citizens demand action, leaders across the globe are invoking executive powers and seizing virtually dictatorial authority with scant resistance.
Governments and rights groups agree that these extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. States need new powers to shut their borders, enforce quarantines and track infected people. Many of these actions are protected under international rules, constitutional lawyers say.

But critics say some governments are using the public health crisis as cover to seize new powers that have little to do with the outbreak, with few safeguards to ensure that their new authority will not be abused.

The laws are taking swift hold across a broad range of political systems — in authoritarian states like Jordan, faltering democracies like Hungary, and traditional democracies like Britain. And there are few sunset provisions to ensure that the powers will be rescinded once the threat passes.

“We could have a parallel epidemic of authoritarian and repressive measures following close if not on the heels of a health epidemic,” said Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights.

As the new laws broaden state surveillance, allow governments to detain people indefinitely and infringe on freedoms of assembly and expression, they could also shape civic life, politics and economies for decades to come.
The pandemic is already redefining norms. Invasive surveillance systems in South Korea and Singapore, which would have invited censure under normal circumstances, have been praised for slowing infections. Governments that initially criticized China for putting millions of its citizens under lockdown have since followed suit.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has authorized his country’s internal security agency to track citizens using a secret trove of cellphone data developed for counterterrorism. By tracing people’s movements, the government can punish those who defy isolation orders with up to six months in prison.

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