Geneva Council for rights and Liberties (GCRL) submitted a questioning concerning the measures taken by the European Union regarding prison conditions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa in light of Coronavirus pandemic.
The questioning was submitted by Theodore Ciuhodaru, member of the European Parliament and the Romanian Social Democrats Party, to Mr. Josep Borrell, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice President of the European Commission.
It mentioned that, since last April, multiple reported COVID 19 outbreaks in virus have been reported in various UAE detention centers, and other Middle East countries, and highlighted that prisons in these countries usually suffer from overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and the lack of adequate hygiene, which means the absence of the necessary measures to prevent coronavirus.
It also referred to the complaints of detainees in those prisons for denying them access to the necessary medical care, as well as the lack of information provided to them or their families on the spread of the disease or on basic prevention measures.
It is also reported that some of the prisoners who have been tested positive to Coronavirus have been transferred to unknown locations, while others who are still in the detention centres because of the appalling prison conditions, and the lack of adequate medical care.
Therefore, GCRL demanded a clarification on the cooperation strategy suggested by the EU and Non-European Countries on the need to take proper measures to ensure the safety of detainees from the danger of coronavirus in UAE and Middle East countries.
It also warned that, given that the European Union is the Gulf region’s main trading partner, there is an urgent need to clarify how the EU can work with local governments to reduce the number of detainees in overcrowded detention centres, guarantee access to medical information and medical care and ensure contact with their families.
Geneva Council has previously urged international human rights and humanitarian organizations to put pressure on the Middle East and North Africa governments to avoid disastrous consequences for detainees and to end violations of prisoners’ rights in light of the risks of the Corona pandemic.
The Council has stressed in several statements that most prisoners have weakened immune systems which exposes them to infection and the development of the disease, underlining the responsibility of authorities to act immediately to save them and release unlawfully detained prisoners, especially prisoners of conscience and political opponents