Protecting Lives of Prisoners Priority, Not Punishing them
2020-04-09 - 10:17 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): At a time several countries have made decisions releasing prisoners due to fear of Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in prisons, the authorities in Bahrain are being very strict and stubborn in not releasing political prisoners.
Tens of thousands of prisoners around the world have been freed. Meanwhile, the Bahraini authorities have only released dozens of prisoners under the Alternative Penalty Law in March.
Families of prisoners in Bahrain, in a campaign they launched via Twitter, considered that not releasing their loved ones is a collective death penalty in Jaw Prison, which holds 3,000 political prisoners, with some cases having serious diseases amid bad health conditions. These extreme stances of the authorities come despite the UN demand to countries to release prisoners to protect their lives. If any prisoner becomes infected with this virus, the situation would turn into an unavertable catastrophe.
The Bahraini government hasn't followed the steps that a number of other countries around the world have taken. Its closest allies, the US and UK, have released thousands of prisoners.
Nearly 5 prisoners have so far died in the US due to the Coronavirus. Releases have been ongoing since then. However, in the UK, the government decided to temporarily release 4,000 prisoners.
The ruling party in Turkey said that it proposed a bill to temporarily release about 45,000 prisoners and 45,000 others permanently. In Indonesia, the government decided to release about 30,000 prisoners.
The Moroccan government announced that King Mohammed VI issued a pardon including 5,654 inmates. Elsewhere, in Algeria, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, issued a decree pardoning 5,000 inmates. In Tunisia, President Kais Saied decided to free 1,400 prisoners. However, the Supreme Judicial Council in Iraq decided to release 420 defendants and prisoners.
Afghanistan released about 10,000 prisoners. Head of the prison administration in Iran Asghar Jahangir said that around 70,000 prisoners were released with the aim of combating the epidemic.
The vast majority of countries combating the virus have taken courageous and necessary steps in releasing, even if temporarily, a number of prisoners, because protecting lives is the priority, not punishment.
Families of prisoners and activists demanded the release of political prisoners in their media campaign and wished a happy ending to this alarming issue.
"We have closed everything to devote ourselves to our global battle against a fierce enemy who wants to kill us all, who does not care about our sectarian and political affiliations. We closed schools, restaurants, shopping malls, aviation and travel agencies, and one thing remained: the issue of prisoners and exiles. It's time for reconciliation," opposition leader Ibrahim Sharif said via his Twitter account.