Forests Could Be Next Covid-19 Casualties: Daily Brief

The world’s forests could soon join the growing list of Covid-19 casualties; suspicious deaths in custody in Burkina Faso; no access to food aid for refugees in South Africa; Tanzania’s prisoners deprived of right to legal counsel; Burundi’s outgoing president to continue to exert influence; Hungary rolls back legal right to gender changes; Azerbaijan’s top political detainee kept in prison despite Covid-19 risk; cyclone threatens Rohingya refugees; and a slim victory for South Korea’s women’s rights activists.

This year's forest fire season could be even deadlier as governments grappling with Covid-19 are rolling back enforcement of environmental protections that are crucial for containing them.

12 men detained during a counterterrorism operation by Burkina Faso security forces have been found dead shortly after having been taken into custody.

 

The South African government has been ignoring the plight of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers during the ongoing nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

 

To prevent the spread of Covid-19, prison authorities in Tanzania have banned all visits to the country’s prisons. As a result, prisoners can’t speak to their lawyers, depriving them of the right to a fair trial. The government should prioritize decongesting and improving prison conditions instead.

The build-up to yesterday’s presidential elections in Burundi had been marred by violence, arrests of opposition members and candidates and a social media blackout. Whoever wins will be required by law to consult with outgoing president Pierre Nkurunziza, set to become the country’s "supreme guide to patriotism".

Hungary’s parliament this week passed a law making it impossible for transgender or intersex people to legally change their gender – putting them at risk of harassment, discrimination, and even violence.

As governments around the world are urged to decrease the number of people in detention to curb the spread of Covid-19, Azerbaijani authorities have kept one of the country’s top political opposition figures behind bars for the last two months for his activism.

 

The Bangladesh government has confined over 300 Rohingya refugees on a remote silt island that lies in the path of a “super cyclone”, and which could be submerged at high tide if the cyclone hits.

And finally, some good news: In the wake of a chilling case of online sexual abuse the South Korean government has announced an inter-agency plan to "eradicate digital sex crimes." This response is a testament to the women's rights activists who have fought for years to make officials take digital sex crimes seriously. But more needs to be done.