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Covid-19 continues to spread in UAE prisons

June 22, 2020 at 4:08 pm

An inmate looks out of his prison cell in UAE [Abbtakk/Facebook]

The coronavirus pandemic is continuing to spread inside the prisons in the UAE amid claims that the authorities are covering up the extent of the outbreak and have refused to provide the true number of inmates infected with the virus.

The claim has been made in a report from the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR). Two weeks ago, Human Rights Watch also warned of the unsanitary conditions and inadequate medical care in the UAE’s notorious detention centres.

The ICJHR report accuses the UAE government of losing control of the virus in its prisons, having failed to implement the necessary precautionary measures. Overcrowding has made it practically impossible to enforce social distancing.

READ: Amnesty slams UAE over conditions of prisoners of conscience amid COVID-19

Earlier this month, the first case of coronavirus confirmed in UAE prisons was that of an Omani detainee, Abdullah Al-Shamsi, who tested positive for Covid-19 in Abu Dhabi’s Al-Wathba Prison. A source at the time said that he had been denied medical treatment in spite of his diagnosis.

According to the International Campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates (ICFUAE), several family members of detainees have been unable to communicate with their relatives for weeks. None have been provided with regular updates about the prisoners’ well-being.

We Record, an international human rights organisation which gathers data on rights violations, has tweeted background information of some of the prisoners who have tested positive for coronavirus in the UAE.

A message from a Jordanian detainee at Al-Wathba Prison to his daughter was also shared online. Yaser Abu Bakr has been incarcerated since October 2015 after being accused of sharing a video and commenting on it on WhatsApp.

Based on current official data, there are 44,925 reported coronavirus cases in the UAE. Just over 300 of the people infected have died.

READ: Abu Dhabi extends movement ban for additional week