December 10, 2020

Our Collective Advocacy for Human Rights Through a Global Pandemic

December 10th of each year marks the UN day for Human Rights. Ms. Lubna Nasser (Fulbright Alumna 2018-2019) shares this insightful article through the lens of her work and this year’s Human Rights Day theme relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every year on December 10th Human Rights Day is celebrated across the world but this year Human Rights Day comes with great uncertainty. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the already existing inequalities, and vulnerabilities. Although the virus doesn't discriminate, its impact is disproportionately experienced amongst vulnerable demographics. Harsh lockdowns with stay-at-home measures are causing women, children, and the LGBTQI community to experience more violence from family members; as well, the strict lockdowns make it difficult for at-risk groups to access support services from organisations. Conditions of detention centers has severely worsened due to further isolation of prisoners from the outside world, often precluding regular access to lawyers and family members. In addition, the economic hardship which accompanied the pandemic has deepened food insecurities as supply chains are in constant jeopardy. Overall, the pandemic has brought an additional set of challenges and the COVID-19 risk is far from over.

As the Country Director of DIGNITY- Danish Institute against Torture in Jordan and Project Lead of a project which works to promote access to justice; today we are launching a campaign on “the right to a fair trial at the stage of arrest, search and detention under Jordanian Law”. It is imperative for one to know their rights stipulated under the law; providing them adequate access to justice and promoting the Jordanian rule of law. Furthermore, as we commemorate Human Rights Day it is fortuitous that DIGNITY is in the formative stages to implement a project that strengthens Jordanian political frameworks; expanding its democratic reach and citizen engagement.  

Attending Law, Justice, and Development Week at the World Bank, November 2018

During my Hubert Humphrey year at the American University Washington College of Law, with a  focus on Law and Human Rights, I learned many things from my illustrious professors that still resonates with me. For example, during states of emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the human rights framework is flexible enough to accommodate for such times. Some rights, such as freedom of movement can be derogated from under restrictive conditions, and some rights are non-derogable no matter what the emergency situation is, like the right to be free from torture.

 Unfortunately, around the world the current public health crisis serves as the pretext for imposing restrictive measures that are not directly related to the pandemic; curtailing and repressing freedoms and civic space.

Representing Jordan on a panel during a Conference on the People of Color and the Future of Democracy, May 2019

The Humphrey year not only gave me in-depth theoretical knowledge on International Human Rights Law but helped me to develop practical experiences to be utilized in my homeland. I gained a global perspective learning from my international colleagues about their localized fight for human rights; realizing our fights are unique but maintain more similarities than differences. On this day of Human Rights I am reminded of Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King’s letter from his Birmingham cell:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

This article was written by our Jordanian Fulbright Alumna - Ms. Lubna Nasser. Ms. Nasser was awarded the prestigious Hubert Humphrey Fellowship back in 2018 and was hosted by the American University in Washington DC. Ms. Nasser is currently the Country Director of DIGNITY - Danish Institute against Torture in Amman, Jordan.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Binational Fulbright Commission in Jordan.

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