Country; Iran

ICHR strongly condemns the government of Iran for its negligence in containing the Coronavirus outbreak in prisons nationwide, and they must be held accountable for leaving the prisoners defenceless confronting Coronavirus.

We also strongly call on the government to take proper measures to protect the health of all prisoners and to urgently process the releasing of pre-trial detainees, and the prisoners whom may be at more risk due to their severe illness.

Environmental activist Sam Rajabi, whom has been imprisoned under false charges was taken to the prison hospital for treatment of illness in his intestinal, and it was confirmed that he was positive for coronavirus after tests.

Concerns about the situation of other political prisoners, especially Mr. Rajabi’s cellmates in Ward 4 of Evin Prison, have increased with the positive response to Sam Rajabi’s corona test.  Katayoun Rajabi told the campaign: “Hooman Jokar and Morad Tahabaz (environmental activists) and Siamak Namazi are among the prisoners who were in the same room with Sam and all of these 15 people should be tested for corona.  When Sam’s test is positive, their condition is worrying, but so far no action has been taken.

“The immediate demand of all activists and the families of prisoners, is the unconditional release of political prisoners, whom their only crime has been fighting for equality, freedom and human rights in Iranian society.” Said Said Ardeshir Zarezadeh, Executive Director of ICHR.

Iran’s has overcrowded jails have detention conditions that don’t fall within the international standards, the prisons are overcrowded, poor ventilation, limited hot water during the winter season, inadequate food, insufficient beds and insect infestations.

Such prison conditions are highly susceptible to the spread of infectious disease.

Central Karaj prisons are having new cases of coronavirus on a daily basis, that has led to other prisoners going on hunger strike to protest about the shortage of sanitary products and the lack of measures taken to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus inside the prisons.

More than hundreds prisoners of the Urumieh prison in early March 2020, went on hunger strike to protest for the shortage of sanitary products inside the prison despite suspected cases of coronavirus among prisoners.

There are raising concerns for the Tehran’s Evin prison, the women’s ward that was not disinfected after a guard tested positive for coronavirus, while prior to that the ward had to share use of one disinfectant product between them, which that process of sharing could have led to serious outbreak.

The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization also reported that two prisoners in Central Ahvaz prison had contracted coronavirus and the authorities failed to test other prisoners in the same ward.

At least four political prisoners in Tehran’s Evin Prison have started a hunger strike, led by human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. They are demanding “freedom for all political prisoners” in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Iran became publicly known in February 2020, many prisoners’ families have been raising concerns for the wellbeing of those jailed and calling for the release of prisoners of conscience and those held on political charges. They have repeatedly voiced their fears that the lack of sanitary products and poor prison conditions put prisoners at serious risk.

They have also called on Iran’s State Prison Organization, which is under the authority of the judiciary, to regularly disinfect prisons, provide masks and hand sanitizers to prisoners, quarantine those suspected of having the coronavirus and grant prison leave to as many prisoners as possible.

While Iran’s judiciary has made a number of announcements about how it intends to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prisons, including plans to release thousands of prisoners temporarily and upon payment of bail and to grant pardons to certain types of prisoners, hundreds of prisoners of conscience remain jailed (for more information).

Under international law the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners is that the authorities must ensure that all prisoners have prompt access to medical attention and health care. The provision of health care for prisoners is the states responsibility.

Prisoners should have the same standards of health care that are available in the community, including testing, prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

“The regime of the Islamic Republic uses its corrupt laws to achieve its criminal and repressive goals.  And the lives and health of the people and the society have no value for these criminal rulers.” Said Said Ardeshir Zarezadeh, Executive Director of ICHR.

ICHR Strongly Calls on Government of Iran to FREE all Prisoner of Conscience, human rights defenders, lawyers, and labour rights activists immediately and unconditionally. Also the Iranian Government must be held accountable directly for any prisoners death in prisons. We also call on other governments to take extra measures to ensure the safety of prisoners.