Migrant-Health Inequity as a Consequence of Poor Siracusa Principles Implementation in the COVID-19 Era

Document Type : Debate


Department of Global Health, Schools of Medicine and Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, USA



The Siracusa Principles dictate that restrictions on the rights of individuals or a group of individuals in the name of public health safety should be strictly necessary and be least intrusive to reach their objective. While social distancing measures have proven to abide by the Siracusa Principles to a more significant extent, they have failed to meet the distributive justice laws, which require limiting unfair or inequitably personal and economic burdens on the nation’s inhabitants. While employing social distancing measures, the principle of reciprocity also obliges governments to provide the people living within their borders with life necessities. Although asylum-seekers, refugees, and undocumented migrants already disproportionately bear the brunt of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, poor application of the Siracusa Principles in social distancing measures seems to intensify their vulnerabilities. We argue that while implementing public health measures that could potentially impact the lives and livelihoods of the people living within the nation, considerations should also be paid to minority groups such as asylum-seekers, refugees, and undocumented migrants. We propose that the application of the social distancing measures should be ‘migration aware, adapting interventions, policies, and setting systems that embed migration as a central concern in their design.