COVID-19 responses and human rights in selected African countries

Awino Okech, David Mwambari*, Funmi Olonisakin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need for states to strike a delicate balance between implementing measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, and respecting the rights and dignity of the populace. Human rights organisations warned that COVID-19 mitigation measures, such as the use of digital surveillance to trace and track population movement and the introduction of emergency laws that extend the government’s power to lock down countries, increased the risk of human rights abuses in a global context where the closure of civic spaces is on the rise. This essay is not a continental overview. We look at select African countries to examine how a government’s approach to managing the spread of COVID-19 can and have compromised their ability to protect human rights. While human rights organisations have challenged state responses to COVID-19 where these constrain civil liberties, these do not form part of the focus of this article. We use a leadership framework to reflect on how political elites can resolve the dilemmas associated with respecting human rights in crisis situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-555
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Journal of Human Rights
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2021


  • Africa
  • COVID-19
  • human rights
  • leadership
  • securitisation


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