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SHRC calls for anti-coronavirus steps in jails

By Our Correspondent
March 27, 2020

Showing its concerns over the plight of jail inmates amidst the sudden rise in the coronavirus cases, the Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Wednesday called on the provincial authorities to take care of the prisoners and introduce coronavirus testing services in each jail of the province.

“As the sudden spike of the pandemic to every nook and corner of the country has driven the country towards a lockdown, the plight of citizens of Sindh province in jails need to be taken care of,” said a statement issued by the SHRC, a government-mandated statutory body headed by Justice (retd) Majida Razvi.

“The biochemical composition of coronavirus suggests that it is contagious and spreads easily from person to person and also latest information suggests that coronavirus appears to be airborne hence, keeping in view the intensity of the threat the pandemic is posing to the masses, the commission suspects that the jails could become the breeding ground for the virus,” the statement read.

The commission said various governmental sources on different occasions had maintained that the jails in Sindh were overcrowded, due to which it believed that all the inmate, including both the under-trial prisoners and convicts, were at greater risk of contracting the disease after which they could infect thousands of other inmates.

The SHRC called for implementing a mitigation plan in all the jails of Sindh to avert the threat of COVID-19 spread there. The commission asked the authorities to provide coronavirus testing services, and form an isolation ward and quarantine facility at each jail of the province along with the provision of medical and paramedical staff.

It also asked the authorities to identify and closely monitor the aged and weak inmates and those with pre-existing medical conditions, and shift them to a separate barrack. The SHRC is a statutory body established under the Sindh Protection of Human Rights Act 2011 with a mandate to promote and protect human rights in Sindh by making statutory interventions.