COVID 19 and the Rights of Belief Minorities
This rapid literature review finds evidence of covid-19 having the effect of undermining the rights of religious and belief minorities in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Nigeria, but limited evidence on the situation in Sudan. Covid-19 suppression measures have disproportionately affected structurally disadvantaged religious and belief minorities, and have been used to justify illiberal control measures. Religious and belief minorities have also been scapegoated and vilified in the traditional media, on the internet and by politicians and state authorities. The report focuses on violations of the rights of citizens to hold and practise their beliefs, discrimination against citizens on the basis of their religious or belief identity, and disproportionate effects of covid-19 measures on structurally disadvantaged minorities. It includes actions undertaken both by state and non-state actors. The report first provides background information on the relevant rights to freedom of religion or belief, and the status of religious minorities. It discusses the ways in which this right may be violated, and provides historical and recent examples of religious minorities in disease outbreaks. It then discusses the evidence for each of the countries surveyed. Because Covid-19 is relatively new and is ongoing, there are limitations on the available data. Much of the report is made up of news sources outlining particular incidents, with some discussion of broader trends.