Accountability Lab hosted a session on countering corruption and closing civic space during the coronavirus in partnership with the B-team. AL Director Blair Glencorse moderated the discussions and three of our Country Directors – Odeh Friday (Nigeria), Eva Sander (Mexico) and Fayyaz Yaseen (Pakistan) participated as panelists, along with Annabel Lee Hogg of the B-Team. The session was part of a week-long series of online learning & networking exploring the theme of “Collective Strength” organized by The Skoll Foundation.

Corruption costs $500 billion a year in the health sector and countless billions more in sectors related to the coronavirus crisis like water and education. During the Covid-19 pandemic so far, we’ve seen everything from politicians in China covering up the scale of the virus and unethical profiteering in India with medical supplies; to US senators selling stocks based on classified information.

At the same time, while we need to change our behaviors during this crisis, governments are using this opportunity to restrict civil rights and civic space at a time when trust in government is absolutely essential to beat this virus. We’ve seen China stepping up digital surveillance, Benjamin Netanyahu shutting down the judicial system in Israel and Victor Orban’s pandemic emergency law in Hungary which essentially allows the government to disregard all other laws.

Crises have long been a way for authoritarians to seize greater power and emergency provisions can create shortcuts that can endure. We know that responses to public health threats are much more effective when they respect human rights, so we wanted to hear from those on the frontlines as to what they are facing and what they are doing to push back against these challenges.

Listen to the full session below: