Countries work to reduce overcrowding in prisons for fear of coronavirus: UN official

Source: Xinhua| 2020-04-03 22:00:00|Editor: huaxia

GENEVA, April 3 (Xinhua) -- A number of countries have been taking actions to reduce overcrowding in prisons so as to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, a UN human rights official said here Friday.

At a virtual press briefing, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, cited the example of Iran, saying it has increased the number of prisoners it is releasing, at least on a temporary basis, to around 100,000 prisoners.

Indonesia announced it would be releasing some 30,000 prisoners convicted of minor crimes, the UN official said, adding that Turkey is similarly considering releasing a large number of inmates.

"Other countries have also 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," the spokesperson said.

"We continue 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 added.

However, the UN official stressed with respect to people fairly convicted of serious crimes 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.