COVID-19: Mapping cases of excessive use of force by law enforcement 2020-2021

In 2021 the world witnessed the spread of a virus which had a devastating impact on people's health, personal freedom, livelihoods and way of life. In times of public emergency international human rights law permits states to modify or suspend – or derogate from – certain human rights obligations. Thus for example, a state may restrict the right to freedom of public assembly in order to prevent the transmission of coronavirus, subject to certain conditions. However, some rights may never be derogated from. These include the right to life and the right to be free from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (torture and other ill-treatment).

Many states created emergency powers to slow the spread of coronavirus. Law enforcement agencies were tasked with enforcing lockdowns, quarantine and social distancing measures. During this time a large number of allegations of excessive use of force in implementing such measures emerged. UN human rights experts expressed their alarm that people living in vulnerable situations were particularly affected.

This map gathered together instances of alleged excessive use of force that occurred in the context of coronavirus measures or protests arising from coronavirus-related concerns. Due to the sheer volume of cases the map does not include all incidents reported; instead it seeks to provide a barometer of the nature and geographic spread of such cases. The map wasl ast updated in September 2021.