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Libya’s GNA frees 466 prisoners to prevent spread of COVID-19

March 31, 2020 at 7:15 am

Libyan Army forces wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus (COVID-19) as they attend “Operation Peace Storm” of the Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) against the forces of warlord Khalifa Haftar in Tripoli, Libya on 25 March, 2020 [Amru Salahuddien/Anadolu Agency]

The Ministry of Justice of the internationally-recognised Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) has announced the release of 466 prisoners in the capital of Tripoli, as part of the measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ministry announced in a statement, of which Anadolu Agency obtained a copy on Monday, that: “The Public Prosecution has issued a decision to release 466 inmates from the correction and rehabilitation institutions within the branch of the Judicial Police in Tripoli.”

The statement added: “The release of detainees comes within the framework of the government response plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic and in implementation of the recommendations of the Supreme Judicial Council and the Ministry of Justice regarding the need to reduce overcrowding in prisons.”

READ: Fighting escalates in Libya despite coronavirus threat

The statement indicated that among the released are Arab and foreign inmates, without specifying their nationalities.

The Ministry of Justice stated: “This decision is a first step in the context of reducing overcrowding in penal institutions, and it is hoped that other similar steps will accompany this initiative.”

On Sunday, the Supreme Judicial Council of Libya decided to suspend work in courts, public prosecution offices and judicial bodies from Monday until the end of April, in the context of combating the outbreak of COVID-19.

As of Sunday evening, the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Libya had reached eight, according to the GNA data.

On Sunday, the Presidential Council of the GNA announced a complete ban on movement between cities, and an extension of the curfew period from 2pm-7pm, starting from Monday.

READ: Hit by war and oil blockade, Libya prepares for pandemic

A week ago, the Presidential Council announced the imposition of a night curfew starting from 6pm-6am, provided that: “The curfew period be adjusted according to the requirements of the crisis.”

As of Monday noon, the number of people infected with COVID-19 worldwide exceeded 735,000, more than 34,000 of whom died, while more than 156,000 recovered from the virus.

The highest death toll worldwide is in Italy, followed by Spain. However, Italy comes second after the US regarding the total number of infections.