The Committee of Prisoners and Missing Persons in the Syrian Negotiations Committee has called on the international community to pay heed to the situation of prisoners in Syrian regime prisons, saying that reports from various sources said that the coronavirus was spreading in Syria, which poses a major risk to the lives of thousand of prisoners.
The Negotiations Committee said that prisoners in the secret and public prisons were very vulnerable to the disease, pointing to the poor health conditions in detention centers and the fact that the prisoners were deprived of the minimum amount of basic needs such as food and water. But the bigger risk came from the heavy overcrowding which made for a fertile environment for the infection to spread.
The committee said: “Despite the concerted efforts of societies and governments in the international community, to fight the coronavirus, Syrian authorities are continuing to prohibit the International Committee of the Red Cross and relevant authorities in the United Nations from accessing all detention centers, especially the secret prisons, to monitor them and to offer aid and the necessary protection for those in them.”
The committee stressed that supporting the collective efforts of the international committee to limit the spread of the virus required not leaving prisoners out of the programs for examination, prevention and treatment, and providing a healthy environment inside the prisons and detention centers on all sides.
It added: “Given that the coronavirus is seen as a pandemic that threatens personal, local, regional and international health, it is necessary to allow access to detention centers to carry out inspections and treatments, and the release of all detainees is an international responsibility.”
In closing, the committee called on all Syrian political forces and civil society organizations to increase pressure for the international community to take responsibility and active measures including opening detention centers in Syria to international bodies and take measures to save prisoners and ensure their health and release them, in accordance with international human rights law and based on related international decrees.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.