The regional overview summarizes the human rights situation and developments in the region throughout 2020.
The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the human rights situation in the Asia-Pacific region. It was the first region affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as the first cases were reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. When Chinese authorities reprimanded health workers who had raised warnings about a new virus, it sparked calls for transparency not only from people in China, but also from other countries in the region. It was the first of many moments throughout the year when governments seized on the pandemic as a pretext to muzzle critical voices and unduly limit the right to freedom of expression, including the right to receive and impart information on COVID-19.