COVID-19: Requests for help for prisoners ignored by Iran

(Nicosia) The Iranian government has ignored pressing requests from prison officials calling for more means to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in prison, Amnesty International (AI) said Thursday.

France Media Agency

Iran is the country in the Middle East most affected by the epidemic. Health authorities on Tuesday recorded a new record of deaths – 235 in 19 h – due to virus.

Amnesty International “has read copies of four letters signed by officials of the Organization of Prisons in Iran […] addressed to the Ministry of Health, sounding the alarm on the serious shortages of medical equipment. protection, disinfectants and essential medical equipment, ”notes the NGO in a press release.

“The ministry has not responded and Iranian prisons remain catastrophically under-equipped in the face of epidemics,” says AI.

“The details provided in these letters contrast sharply with the public statements […] of the adviser to the Chief Justice Asghar Jahangir who […] denied the information indicating an increase in the rate of infection and deaths due to COVID – 15 in prisons ”.

According to the London-based NGO, “these official letters are overwhelming evidence of the government's terrible failure to protect prisoners.”

And to denounce “overcrowding, poor ventilation, lack of basic sanitation and medical equipment, and the deliberate neglect of detainees' health problems”.

All these elements make Iranian prisons a “perfect environment for COVID – 15”, denounces the organization.

Amnesty International calls on the Iranian authorities to “stop denying the health crisis in Iranian prisons and (to) take urgent measures to protect the health of prisoners”.

Since March, more than 100 000 0 Iranian detainees have been granted temporary absences or reduced sentences in order to limit the spread of the pandemic in prisons.

But experts from the UN Human Rights Council recently denounced the fact that prisoners of conscience did not benefit.

In addition, they regret that the released detainees are now returned to prison, while the epidemiological situation in the country remains bad.