OHCHR / AMERICAS PRISON COVID-19

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05-May-2020 00:04:14
UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) is worried by “conditions in many prisons in the Americas region,” given that the “pre-existing structural problems, such as chronic overcrowding and unhygienic conditions, coupled with the lack of proper access to healthcare have enabled the rapid spread of COVID-19 in many facilities.” OHCHR

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STORY: OHCHR AMERICAS / PRISON COVID-19
TRT: 4:14
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH/NATS

DATELINE: 5 MAY 2020 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

FILE

1. Aerial shot, Palais Wilson

5 MAY 2020 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Conditions in many prisons in the Americas region are deeply worrying. Pre-existing structural problems, such as chronic overcrowding and unhygienic conditions, coupled with the lack of proper access to healthcare have enabled the rapid spread of COVID-19 in many facilities.”

FILE

3. Aerial shot, Palais Wilson

5 MAY 2020 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

4. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Thousands of inmates and prison officials have already been infected across North and South America. In many countries, the increasing fear of contagion and lack of basic services -- such as the regular provision of food due to the prohibition of family visits -- have triggered riots and protests.”

FILE

5. Aerial shot, Palais Wilson

5 MAY 2020 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

6. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Some of these incidents in detention centres have turned extremely violent. The latest happened on 1 May, in Los Llanos penitentiary in Venezuela, where a revolt by prisoners reportedly resulted in 47 inmates losing their lives. Four days earlier, on 27 April, a riot broke out in the Miguel Castro Castro prison in Peru leaving nine inmates dead. On 21 March, 23 inmates died after security forces intervened to supress rioting in La Modelo prison in Colombia. Other incidents, including attempts to escape, have been registered in detention centres in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, Mexico and the U.S.”

FILE

7. Aerial shot, Palais Wilson

5 MAY 2020 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

8. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The scale and gravity of the incidents mentioned above seem to indicate that in some cases states have not taken appropriate measures to prevent violence in detention facilities, and that state agents may have committed use of force violations in attempts to re-gain control of these facilities. We remind authorities that the use of force must strictly comply with the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination, and that States have the duty to protect inmates’ physical and mental health and well-being, as set out in the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules).”

FILE

9. Aerial shot, Palais Wilson

5 MAY 2020 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

10. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“We call on States to conduct thorough, prompt, independent and impartial investigations into the circumstances of the deaths and injuries during riots, including any allegation of use of force violations by state agents.”

FILE

11. Aerial shot, Palais Wilson

5 MAY 2020 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

12. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“We have also seen with concern how some States have routinely detained people for allegedly violating mandatory quarantines, thereby increasing the risk of infection.”

FILE

13. Aerial shot, Palais Wilson

5 MAY 2020 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

14. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“In El Salvador, extremely harsh security measures were recently imposed in prisons, which could amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and could also exacerbate the already precarious hygiene conditions.”

FILE

15. Aerial shot, Palais Wilson

5 MAY 2020 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

16. SOUNDBITE (English) Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“We welcome measures taken by some States to release those most vulnerable to COVID-19, including people with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women, older people, people living with HIV, as well as people with disabilities. However, broader measures are needed to reduce the extreme levels of overcrowding by releasing other categories of prisoners serving short sentences for non-violent crimes, as well as children held in detention and people detained for immigration offences.”

FILE

17. Aerial shot, Palais Wilson

STORYLINE:

UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) is worried by “conditions in many prisons in the Americas region,” given that the “pre-existing structural problems, such as chronic overcrowding and unhygienic conditions, coupled with the lack of proper access to healthcare have enabled the rapid spread of COVID-19 in many facilities.”

Rupert Colville spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights briefed journalist on the prison conditions in the Americas: “thousands of inmates and prison officials have already been infected across North and South America. In many countries, the increasing fear of contagion and lack of basic services -- such as the regular provision of food due to the prohibition of family visits -- have triggered riots and protests.”

Some of these incidents, according to the OHCHR, have turned “extremely violent.”

On 1 May, in Los Llanos penitentiary in Venezuela, where a revolt by prisoners reportedly resulted in 47 inmates losing their lives. Four days earlier, on 27 April, a riot broke out in the Miguel Castro Castro prison in Peru leaving nine inmates dead. On 21 March, 23 inmates died after security forces intervened to supress rioting in La Modelo prison in Colombia.

“Other incidents, including attempts to escape, have been registered in detention centres in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, Mexico and the U.S,” said OHCHR spokesperson.

OHCHR also called on States in Americas “to conduct thorough, prompt, independent and impartial investigations into the circumstances of the deaths and injuries during riots, including any allegation of use of force violations by state agents.”

On 25 March this year, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on governments to take urgent action to protect the health and safety of people in detention and other closed facilities, as part of overall efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Authorities were urged to examine ways to release those particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, among them older detainees and those who are sick, as well as low-risk offenders and to also continue to provide for the specific health-care requirements of women prisoners, including those who are pregnant, as well as those of inmates with disabilities and of juvenile detainees.

“We welcome measures taken by some States to release those most vulnerable to COVID-19, including people with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women, older people, people living with HIV, as well as people with disabilities,” said Colville. “However, broader measures are needed to reduce the extreme levels of overcrowding by releasing other categories of prisoners serving short sentences for non-violent crimes, as well as children held in detention and people detained for immigration offences.”
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