Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic called on member states to protect the rights and health of all detainees amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Stating that convicted prisoners and persons on remand are among those most vulnerable to viral contagion as they are held in a high-risk environment, she said: “In general, detention facilities are not adapted to face large-scale epidemics, and the basic protective measures such as social distancing and hygiene rules cannot be observed as easily as outside, exposing prisoners to greater health risks.”

She recalled that across Europe, a number of contaminations and some COVID 19-related deaths in prison have already been reported; tension in prisons has increased since the beginning of the pandemic crisis, leading to acts of protest (sometimes violent) in reaction to restrictions on visits or other activities.

“I strongly urge all member states to make use of all available alternatives to detention whenever possible and without discrimination, “ she added. (ILKHA)

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