Posts Tagged ‘prisoners’

Corona virus threatens human rights defenders in detention: Egypt and Turkey

March 20, 2020

Human rights defenders are often kept in detention and that is bad enough, but with the Covid-19 pandemic this risks killing many of them. Overcrowded prison conditions are such that infection is bound to occur. Following a request from the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Tehran released 85,000 prisoners, including many political prisoners, in an attempt to help stop the spread of the virus. China, Italy and Bahrain also have released prisoners over coronavirus concerns.

Now a coalition of human rights groups, activists, and politicians, including former Tunisian President Moncef Marzuki, sent a letter to UN Secretary and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urging the prisoner releases after the first case among prisoners was confirmed in Egypt. …..”Even more worrying in this time of pandemic, prisoners are crammed in cells that are so small that they have to wait for their turns to lay down and sleep,” the letter read.

Coronavirus: Egypt detains novelist Ahdaf Soueif for demanding prisoners’ release

On Wednesday the Egyptian government’s reaction was – surprise, surprise – to detain four activists who staged a protest calling for the release of prisoners in the country. The writer Ahdaf Soueif protested in front of the cabinet building in Cairo, alongside academic Rabab al-Mahdi, Soueif’s sister and academic Leila Soueif, and her niece, activist Mona Seif. Mona Seif live streamed the protest on Facebook, recording a confrontation with police officers who reportedly asked them to stop and “discuss the matter” at a police station…..On 19 March the Middle East Eye reported that Laila Soueif remained in custody late on Wednesday but the three others were freed. This comes as Egyptian prosecutors on Thursday ordered the release of 15 political dissidents, including a prominent academic arrested as part of a crackdown on nationwide protests in September. Mona Seif, Laila Soueif’s daughter, is the sister of Alaa Abdel Fattah, a left-wing activist currently in pre-trial detention.

President Erdoğan’s government in Turkey has rejected calls from human rights organizations to release inmates from two overcrowded prisons despite detection in those facilities of the coronavirus, which has caused the death of more than 8,000 people around the world. A purge of thousands of dissidents in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 2016 has filled Turkey’s prisons, which today are overcrowded with tens of thousands of political prisoners…On Wednesday Erdoğan announced a number of measures to battle the spread of the coronavirus following an emergency meeting convened to coordinate the fight. Yet the release of prisoners was not among the measures disclosed by the Turkish president.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a member of parliament and one of Turkey’s most prominent human rights defenders, revealed how he received news from Edirne Prison that three prison guards tested positive there for COVID-19, as a result of which the prison was put under quarantine. A day later, Balıkesir’s Kepsut Prision was also quarantined, Turkish media reported. “A short while ago my husband called and informed me that contamination in a cell had been detected and that they had put everyone in quarantine,” the wife of an inmate told reporters. On March 16 Gergerlioğlu launched a campaign for the release of all prisoners starting with those at greatest risk and submitted a parliamentary question directed to the Ministry of Justice about health conditions in the country’s prisons.

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https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/coronavirus-egypt-united-nations-rights-groups-request-prisoner-release

https://pen.org/press-release/egyptian-writer-detained-for-protesting-prison-conditions-that-could-worsen-covid-19-spread/

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/coronavirus-egypt-releases-bail-four-women-who-called-releasing-prisoners

https://ahvalnews.com/amnesty-bill/turkey-excludes-sex-offenders-early-prison-release-after-outcry-columnist-says

https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Turkey/Journalism-in-times-of-COVID19-an-update-from-Turkey-200596

 

http://bianet.org/english/law/222239-27-rights-organizations-call-on-turkey-to-release-jailed-journalists

Humberto Prado Sifontes in Venezuela falsely accused by Minister

April 10, 2013

On 8 April 2013, the Minister for the Prison Services, Ms Iris Valera, accused prominent human rights defender, Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes, of instigating violence within the country’s prisons ahead of upcoming elections on 14 April. Humberto Prado Sifontes is the Director of the Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones – OVP (Venezuelan Prisons Observatory) which documents cases of violations against persons in detention in Venezuela.

At a press conference at her office,the Minister stated that on 3 April Humberto Prado Sifontes had met with the families of prisoners in the Comunidad Penitenciaria de Coro. The Minister accused the human rights defender of planning protest actions within prisons all over the country, beginning with hunger strikes before escalating to blood strikes, where prisoners self-mutilate in order to bring attention to their situation. She alleged that Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes quickly departed from the Plaza and went to the Diocesan of the Archbishop when he noticed the presence of officials from the Ministry of Prison Services who were there to investigate what was going on. She claimed to have found evidence for these plans in the notebooks of a prisoner. Minister Valera also linked the human rights defender to two unrelated incidents; one in which five women tried to smuggle grenades into the same prison, and a foiled escape attempt at the Metropolitan Prison Yare II in Caracas. Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes was in fact in Coro to participate in two conferences organised by the University of Falcón. When the families of the prisoners heard of his presence in the State, they arranged to meet him in order to give him photographic and video evidence of torture in the prison.

In 2009 Dr Humberto Prado Sifontes was the winner of the Canadian Embassy in Venezuela’s first human rights award. Front Line Defenders has previously issued appeals to protect him in his peaceful and legitimate work on behalf of prisoner’s human rights in Venezuela. Given the political climate in the run-up to elections in Venezuela, Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned that statements such as those made by the Minister could lead to reprisals against the human rights defender, up to and including physical attack.  Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped