The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis and the measures taken to combat its spread have been some of the most disruptive events to daily life that humankind has faced since the 1918 flu pandemic. So far, the coronavirus has affected a multiplicity of countries and territories around the world, with more than 53 million cases registered by November 2020.
Faced with the challenge of protecting public health and preventing the further spread of the virus, the Republic of Serbia declared a state of emergency on 15 March 2020. The Constitution permits the state to derogate from certain rights guaranteed by the Constitution, but only to the extent required by the severity of the situation.
In these times of global upheaval, some segments of society can be forgotten as big stories compete for attention. Improving the lives of every member of our communities remains the priority for UNODC at all times when it comes to peace, justice and strong institutions, and that includes the circumstances of prisoners as they embark on skills training to provide them with a new chance in life.
This month in Tajikistan, UNODC's Prisoner Rehabilitation initiative, part of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, marked another milestone in working with the Tajik authorities to improve prospects for the social reintegration of prisoners.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to the disruptions the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, with many at risk of being left behind in education, economic opportunities, and health and wellbeing during a crucial stage of their life development. Over one billion children and youth, or 60 per cent of all enrolled learners, are affected by school closures, and poverty and unemployment rates due to COVID-19 have increased dramatically.
Many of these hardships are also known risk factors associated with crime, violence, and drug use, and may expose youth to increased victimization and involvement with crime during and after the pandemic.
The United Nations has since long recognized a wide array of basic human rights which apply to all humanity; amongst these are the right to be free from discrimination and the right to express cultural identity in all its facets. In 2007, to further address the specific needs of some communities, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, establishing a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of indigenous peoples of the world.
While much still remains to be done in this context, increased activism about the need to formalize indigenous rights has led a number of countries to an official recognition of different ethnicities within their populations, with their own linguistic and cultural differences.
As the world watched in dismay at the distressing consequences of COVID-19, what held us together in Malaysia is the belief that nothing is insurmountable. Thus, with characteristic stoicism, the Malaysian Judiciary put several measures in place, for it is inconceivable that the administration and accessibility to justice should come to a grinding halt.
Even if the courts are not listed as 'essential services' under the relevant regulation, the enabling provision of the Prevention of Infectious Diseases Act (1988) allowed certain protective measures to be put in place to ensure that COVID-19 is curbed and confined. As such, comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures for the courts were formulated, incorporating both the form and substance of court administration.