Jun 25, 2020 - World

Democracy under threat from coronavirus pandemic, leading figures warn

Combination photos of Madeleine Albright, secretary of state in the Clinton administration, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Combination images of Madeleine Albright, secretary of state in the Clinton administration, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Photos: David M. Russell/CBS via Getty Images and Getty Images

Liberal democracy is at risk from the coronavirus pandemic, warns an open letter signed by prominent figures including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, ex-Trump national security adviser H.R. McMaster and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R).

Details: The letter, also signed by Nobel Prize winners and current and former leaders from around the world, notes democratically elected governments are "amassing emergency powers that restrict human rights and enhance state surveillance," with little oversight.

"Parliaments are being sidelined, journalists are being arrested and harassed, minorities are being scapegoated, and the most vulnerable sectors of the population face alarming new dangers as the economic lockdowns ravage the very fabric of societies everywhere."

Of note: Signatories to the letter, organized by the Stockholm-based think tank IDEA, pointed to restrictions in China, where the pandemic began, "where the free flow of information is stifled and where the government punished those warning about the dangers of the virus."

The big picture: Governments across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the wider Asia-Pacific region have passed emergency measures in response to the pandemic. Israel, South Korea and Singapore are among the countries to have introduced "invasive" coronavirus tracking methods, per the New York Times.

  • Authorities in China, Egypt, Turkey, Bangladesh, Thailand, Cambodia and Bolivia have censored during the outbreak critics, who live under the threat of arrest or who have been detained, according to Human Rights Watch.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S., EU states and the U.K. have "increased collection of visa and immigrant data and counter-terrorism powers," Reuters notes.

Read the letter in full via DocumentCloud:

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