The International Council of Jurists (ICJ) has moved the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), demanding an undisclosed sum as damages from China for causing “serious physical, psychological, economic and social harm” to member states by unleashing COVID-19 on them. The ICJ wants the UNHRC to investigate and direct the communist government of China to “adequately compensate the international community and member-states, particularly India, for surreptitiously developing a biological weapon capable of mass destruction of mankind throughout the world and also for serious physical, psychological, economic and social harm caused to these states due to the inaction and negligence to respect the international obligations.”
The ICJ said China had violated International Health Regulations (IHR), and International Human Rights and as also International Humanitarian Laws and UDHR clauses. It accuses China of inaction and negligence and of “surreptitiously developing a biological weapon capable of mass destruction of mankind throughout the world”.
How ICJ will explain to UNHRC China is guilty
ICJ president and senior advocate Adish C Aggarwala filed the petition. He narrated how the pandemic was unearthed on 1 December 2019, and how the communist regime in Beijing denied the outbreak until January 2020. [Before this, Sirf News had reported that the outbreak happened actually in September 2019]
Aggarwala said, “On 23 January, nearly two months after the first case of the virus was reported, Chinese authorities announced their ‘first steps for a quarantine of Wuhan.’ By this time, a significant number of Chinese citizens had travelled abroad as asymptomatic, oblivious carriers.”
Aggarwala said, “The Chinese government also did not sufficiently contain and curb the travel of infected persons from further contaminating the world.”
‘It’s a biological weapon’
The ICJ president asserted that the Wuhan Institute of Virology developed the biological agent. He alleged China deployed the virus carefully to affect not more than 0.001% of the Chinese population. He said the communist regime planted meticulously “infected” persons around the world, affecting the health sector of the targeted countries and industries worldwide to emerge as the strongest economy.
The senior lawyer said that China’s constant censorship and suppression of information related to coronavirus even from the World Health Organisation (WHO) amounted to a clear violation of the provisions of Articles 6 and 7 of the IHR. Aggarwala said public authorities were under obligation to inform the WHO about the existence of a disease of public and international concern within 24 hours of assessment of general health hazard. “Here, the Chinese government provided partial information about the novel coronavirus only on 14 February after the virus had affected more than 2,000 people and killed about 50,” the ICJ president said.
Culpability of China
Citing Article 25(1) of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR), the petition of the ICJ president says the member states of the UNHCR must refrain from
- denying or limiting access to healthcare services
- marketing unsafe drugs
- imposing discriminatory practices relating to health status and needs
- limiting, withholding, censoring or misrepresenting health information, and
- infringing on the basic human rights of people recognised under UDHR.
The ICJ president explained his petition thus: “A person shall be considered a victim regardless of whether the perpetrator of the violation is identified, apprehended, prosecuted, or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and the victim.”
But do all the above amount to a violation of human rights? The ICJ president said, “The WHO provides a clear and conclusive inference. The establishment of the WHO itself envisages the highest standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being”.
China, according to Aggarwala, has violated the Responsibility of States for Internally Wrongful Act, 2001, by omitting or not tackling the early days of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease. He said, “China has violated Clause (b) of the article by failing to act upon the directives of the IHR and omitting to inform WHO, thereby resulting in a breach of an international obligation. This is in addition to Chapter III of the IHR, which cast on China the responsibility of acting in a diligent manner in the event of a suspected outbreak which it has failed to do so in the present scenario.”
Before Aggarwala, the position of president of the ICJ has been held by eminent personalities like former Prime Minister of Jordon Justice Awn S al Khasawneh, former CJI Justice PN Bhagwati and Justice RC Lahoti and former International Bar Association president Fernando Pombo.