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07.04.2020 04:27 News >> UN Urges 'Close Look' At Kashmiri Detentions Amid Virus

UN Urges 'Close Look' At Kashmiri Detentions Amid Virus

UN chief believes any political solution must take into consideration issue of human rights, says spokesperson.

The UN said Monday that India should closely monitor the plight of detainees in Jammu and Kashmir as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the world.
"The Secretary-General [Antonio Guterres], as we have said earlier, believes that Member States need to take a very close look at incarcerations during a time of COVID-19. It's something the High Commissioner for Human Rights has spoken out about," his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
He said Guterres believes that any political solution must take into consideration the issue of human rights.
On March 25, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on the international community to protect prisoners from the pandemic by releasing "vulnerable" ones.
"COVID-19 has begun to strike prisons, jails and immigration detention centers as well as residential care homes and psychiatric hospitals and risks rampaging through such institutions' extremely vulnerable populations," Bachelet said in a statement.
"Authorities should examine ways to release those particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, among them older detainees and those who are sick, as well as low-risk offenders," she said.
Dujarric's remarks came days after six international human rights organizations called on the Indian government to free detained Kashmiris.
They included Amnesty International India, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Commissions of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights and World Organization Against Torture.
In a joint statement, the rights bodies also called for the restoration of high-speed internet in the region because "contacts between inmates and the outside world are even more limited."
"The fate of hundreds of arbitrarily detained Kashmiri prisoners hangs in the balance as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in India passes the 4,000 mark and many more are likely to remain undetected or unreported," said the statement.
They warned that inmates and prison staff remain extremely vulnerable to the disease and basic measures like hand washing are not possible for prisoners.
"Under international law, India has an obligation to ensure the physical and mental health and well-being of inmates. However, with an occupancy rate of over 117%, precarious hygienic conditions and inadequate health services, the overcrowded Indian prisons constitute the perfect environment for the spread of coronavirus," the rights groups said.
As of Monday evening, there were nearly 4,800 coronavirus cases in India and 136 deaths registered overall, according to a running tally by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
As part of measures to curb the spread of the virus, the Indian government imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown on March 25.
The data shows more than 1.3 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the global death toll above 74,000 and over 276,000 recoveries. -



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