As border restrictions pop up all over the world to contain the Coronavirus, governments continue to deport people from pandemic countries to poor, at-risk countries, many of which currently have very few cases. Reports are emerging that governments are deporting sick, coughing and potentially positive people from facilitates located at the center of an outbreak to poor countries that, to date, have far fewer cases. In other words, countries are negligently and knowingly spreading the pandemic to some of the world’s poorest countries by failing to take the simple and sensible measure of halting deportations.
The Biological Weapons Convention prohibits the spread of biological agents, including viruses, as weapons. But what about the negligent spread of a dangerous virus? The CDC in the United States has classified many dangerous viruses as banned biological weapons. Presumably, the coronavirus will be added to this list. The World Health Organization helped to enact the International Health Regulations in 2005 to bind countries to collective action during a pandemic. The regulations include guidelines to limit the international spread of the virus.
During the AIDS epidemic, countries regularly deported infected persons in violation of international law. But coronavirus is so contagious, deporting a single infected person can create an outbreak, putting thousands at risk. It might finally be the catalyst for action against this biological crime. If there is an outbreak in a country that can be traced to a willful deportation by another country, a lawsuit can and should be brought by the injured country before the International Court of Justice. Such an action might make countries think twice during the next pandemic before they willfully spread the virus through deportations.