• Press Release

Response to President Bolsonaro’s comments around COVID-19: health and life are basic human rights

March 25, 2020

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - MARCH 28: A Brazilian Army soldier from the 1st Nuclear, Radiological, Biological and Chemical Defense Battalion (1 BTL DQBRN) performs disinfection operations at BRT (Bus Rapid Transportation) Stations at Barra da Tijuca neighborhood due to the coronavirus (COVID - 19) pandemic on March 28, 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 20,000 lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by Andre Coelho/Getty Images)

In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and President Jair Bolsonaro’s statement on national television last Tuesday night, Amnesty International said: 

“Health and life are human rights. We’re facing what is already one of the greatest crises in history, with these two rights that are so basic and precious to us under threat. Scientific evidence and recommendations from global health authorities show the seriousness of COVID-19 for people’s health and the healthcare systems of all countries. There are 220 million of us in Brazil. Imagine if we get infected and need to run to hospitals at the same time, as has happened in the most affected countries? This is what the Brazilian government must prioritize avoiding now.” 

“In addition, it is necessary to take all necessary measures to ensure that everyone, including the poorest people living in the favelas, marginalized and rural populations, indigenous peoples and quilombola communities, homeless people, and other vulnerable groups, are able to protect themselves, with access to water, sanitation, food security, security and income. Those deprived of their liberty, crammed in overcrowded cells, and adolescents who are under the responsibility of the socio-educational system, cannot be forgotten either. The COVID-19 pandemic can be devastating for the most socioeconomically vulnerable groups, as well as the elderly and people with weaker immune systems.”

“The Brazilian state has an obligation to guarantee the protection of us all, without anyone being left behind. It is up to the heads of the federal, state and municipal governments and other authorities to adopt all measures within their power to protect each and every Brazilian, respecting human rights, in addition to encouraging people to comply with appropriate sanitary measures, and to set the right example.”


“Yesterday, we released a document with recommendations for countries in the Americas in response to COVI-19 to ensure that the measures they adopt are in line with their international human rights obligations. The recommendations include guaranteeing the rights of workers and their social security; guaranteeing everyone’s access to water, basic sanitation and medical assistance; ensuring a response to the pandemic that focuses on gender; and protecting people’s right to privacy. States must not discriminate; leave high-risk groups behind; use repression or excessive force to implement public health measures; nor censor or limit access to evidence-based information or prevention.”