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Coronavirus outbreak in Iran: UN worries about prisoners

Coronavirus outbreak in Iran: UN worries about prisoners
posted onApril 4, 2020

A United Nations rights official on Friday expressed its concern over prisoners after reports of unrest in facilities provoked by worries over a coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Iran is among the worst-hit countries in the world as the virus so far killed thousands.

Local media have recently reported unrest in several prisons including a mass escape from a facility from the Kurdish city of Saqez.

Tehran said it released some 100,000 inmates to control prison overcrowding amid the coronavirus crisis.

“As you see in Iran and some other countries, we are seeing riots, prisoners who are afraid, who are distressed at the big loss of contact from family members and so on. So, there are many, many issues surrounding this,” U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a virtual briefing in Geneva.

Iran’s death toll rose on Friday to 3,294 as 134 died in the past 24 hours, with the total number of cases reaching 53,183, according to a Health Ministry spokesman.

“Iran ... has increased the number it is releasing, at least on a temporary basis, to around 100,000 prisoners – some 40 percent of the entire prison population,” Colville said.

“We are horrified at the death of a juvenile offender after he was reportedly badly beaten by security officers,” Colville added. “Prisoners were protesting at prison conditions and the failure of the authorities to temporarily release them amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”