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

Over the last year the world has witnessed the spread of a virus which has had a devastating impact on people's health, personal freedom, livelihoods and way of life. In times of public emergency such as these, 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 have created emergency powers to slow the spread of coronavirus. Law enforcement agencies have frequently been 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 have emerged. UN human rights experts have expressed their alarm that people living in vulnerable situations have been particularly affected.

This map seeks to gather together instances of alleged excessive use of force that have 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. We will update the map on a weekly basis.