The ruling regime in the UAE continues to ignore international human rights demands regarding saving prisoners of conscience from the threat of an outbreak of the new Coronavirus in their prisons.
This comes despite the fact that the prisoners of opinion in the UAE prisons risk and the legal consensus is that it is not possible to leave them so that the pandemic will spread in their wards.
Prisoners of conscience in the Emirates suffer from years of arbitrary detention and medical neglect, and concerns about their fate escalate in light of their weak personal immunity and the lack of means of prevention and sanitizing inside prisons.
Organizations and international bodies continue to press the UAE to release political and legal detainees and prisoners in general, fearing the outbreak of the Corona epidemic in prisons.
A few days ago, Human Rights Watch called on the UAE prison authorities to unconditionally release “illegally detained persons, including those imprisoned for their peaceful opposition,” as the number of Corona virus cases increased in the country.
Despite preventive measures to address the Coronavirus announced by the authorities but did not include political detainees, including patients and the elderly.
Two women in the European Parliament, Salima Yabnu and Ogun Margaret, listed the UAE among the despotic countries in the Middle East, and were called upon to release the prisoners of conscience immediately to save their lives.
Salima Yebnou, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, asked the UAE and its ilk from despotic countries to release all prisoners of conscience and politicians from prisons.
A member of the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament, Danish Rep. Ogen Margaret, also called on both Saudi Arabia and the UAE to release all prisoners of conscience from their prisons because of the real concerns for the lives of detainees due to the current global pandemic.
The demands of the two deputies came when they signed a petition calling for the release of political detainees in several countries, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
A petition prepared by Skyline International called for the immediate release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and the necessary protection and medical care to ensure that their lives are valued equally.
The petition also called for an end to the policy of detaining people and activists in the Middle East because of their political opinions, and the need to exchange information and data about the spread of Covid-19 virus in Middle East prisons in a transparent manner.
Human Rights Watch said in statement that the UAE authorities should “appropriately temporarily release other prisoners at risk if prison officials are unable to protect prisoners from the transmission of the Coronavirus.”
The organization noted that Covid-19, like other infectious diseases, is a particular danger to people who live close to each other, as is the case in prisons, detention centers, and immigration detention centers. In the Emirates, these institutions are often found to detain detainees in appalling and unsanitary conditions, where overcrowding, lack of sanitation, and denial of medical care are common.
“During the past year, concerns increased about the deterioration of the health of two unjustly imprisoned human rights activists, Ahmed Mansoor and Nasser bin Ghaith, who are held in poor conditions and are deprived of health care in the prisons of Sadr and Razin, respectively,” the organization said.
Human Rights Watch explained that “hundreds of activists, academics and other lawyers are serving long sentences in UAE prisons under similar circumstances and with vague and loose charges that seem to violate their rights to freedom of expression and association.”
“The UAE authorities are obligated under international human rights law to ensure that prisoners and prison staff are protected from infection and have access to treatment in case of illness. The UAE authorities should also end the excessive use of pretrial detention, which should be the exception rather than the rule, and release the detainees For months without trial or promptly brought before a judge.”
The organization also called on the UAE authorities to consider “the release of prisoners who spent most of their sentences, and the release of those who have serious or deadly and incurable diseases”, calling for immediate access to independent international observers to enter the country, and monitoring prisons and detention centers regularly.