Left Menu
Development News Edition

Political prisoners should be among first released in pandemic response: UN rights chief

PTI | United Nations | Updated: 08-04-2020 03:31 IST | Created: 08-04-2020 03:31 IST
Political prisoners should be among first released in pandemic response: UN rights chief
Representative image Image Credit: ANI

The UN human rights body has urged nations to release individuals detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners, as the world body stressed the need to take a very close look at incarcerations and reduce overcrowding in prisons to prevent catastrophic rates of COVID-19 infection. Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said recently in Geneva that some countries have been announcing prisoner releases of varying numbers, including of specific at-risk groups such as pregnant women, people with disabilities, elderly prisoners, those who are sick, minor and low-risk offenders, people nearing the end of their sentences and others who can safely be reintegrated into society. "We urge states to release every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners, and those detained for critical, dissenting views," Colville said.

"We stress that with respect to people fairly convicted of serious crimes recognized under international law, or prisoners who might pose serious risk to others, they should only exceptionally be considered for temporary release from custody during the course of the pandemic," he said. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' spokesperson Stephane Dujarric on Monday said that the UN chief "believes that member states need to take a very close look at incarcerations during a time of COVID-19. It's something the High Commissioner for Human Rights has spoken out about." Dujarric was responding to a question about the release of prisoners in Kashmir. He added, "As for the situation in Kashmir, he (Secretary General) very much believes that any political solution must take into consideration the issue of human rights." Last week, Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has appealed to prevent "catastrophic" rates of infection, as the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases continues to rise worldwide. Colville added that the UN agency continues to urge all countries to review who is being held and to take measures as soon as possible to ensure the physical distancing necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 becomes feasible. He noted that Iran has increased releases to around 100,000 inmates -- representing 40 per cent of the entire prison population -- and that Indonesia has announced that it would free 30,000 individuals convicted of minor crimes, including drug use.

"And we understand India and Turkey are similarly considering or in the process of releasing a large number of inmates," he said. The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to free 11,000 prisoners lodged in 71 jails in the state amid the COVID-19 outbreak in India. The Tihar Prison authorities in Delhi also said they are planning to release around 3,000 prisoners to ease congestion in jails over the coronavirus threat. Other prisons in India are also taking similar steps. Concerns remain about Syrian detainees.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has described the situation in all official prisons and makeshift detention facilities in Syria as "alarming". Well before the COVID-19 outbreak, the OHCHR warned of overcrowding in central prisons and in facilities run by the four government security branches as the nine-year civil war still rages, and in the Sednaya military prison.

Previous reports from the UN office have highlighted deaths in these facilities, including as a result of torture and denial of medical care. Vulnerable people detained in Syria include the elderly, women, children and many with underlying health conditions -- some of them as a result of ill-treatment and neglect, experienced while in detention, the OHCHR said.



Rethinking Rural Livelihoods in the Times of COVID-19

The reverse migration caused by COVID 19 pandemic has put an additional burden of about one crore people on Indian villages particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal and Odisha. Besides increasing the risk of spreading the ...

‘Discounted Deaths’ and COVID 19: Anthropology of Death and Emotions

Death is a social event rather than the mere cessation of biological functions. As seen by anthropologists, death is not just physical but intensely social, cultural, and political....

Indigenous knowledge of communities a must for maximizing impact of community work

Generally, it has been observed that the majority of the academicians in higher education institutions neglect the wisdom of community people and throw their weight around thinking that they know everything and the community knows nothing. ...

In rebuking FBR, Pakistan’s courts take a stand for public health

The system, if implemented effectively, will allow Pakistans revenue service to combat the illicit trade in tobacco products and potentially add hundreds of millions of dollars to the states budget each year. ...


Latest News

FatPipe Networks Appoints Reliance Communications Executive Vice President to Lead India Strategic Business

SALT LAKE CITY and CHENNAI, India, June 2, 2020 PRNewswire -- FatPipe Networks, the inventor and multiple patents holder of SDWAN technology, announced today that Mr. Harish Motwani has joined the FatPipe senior management team as Executive...

String Surpasses Pre-Pandemic Volumes

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2020 PRNewswire -- String Real Estate Information Services String, the leading provider of title search, production and curative solutions, is pleased to announce that operational capacities have exceeded pre-pandemic vo...

Infantino: Don't punish Bundesliga players for Floyd support

FIFA President Gianni Infantino stepped into the debate about Bundesliga players who protested during matches against the death of George Floyd, saying that they should be applauded and not punished. Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho wa...

Temporary pact reached on funding South Korean workers at U.S. bases

The Pentagon said on Tuesday that it had accepted a proposal from South Korea for it to temporarily fund thousands of Korean workers at U.S. bases who were put on unpaid leave this year. The United States furloughed the workers in South Kor...

Give Feedback