ICRC - News Release No. 20/14
07 April 2020
Geneva (ICRC) – Detaining authorities around the world who have not yet taken measures to prevent and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 inside places of detention are urged to do so immediately to protect the health of detainees, staff and wider society.
The International Committee of the Red Cross fears that places of detention may be hit hard by the pandemic as detainees are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. Clean water can be a luxury while soap, chlorine and other necessary equipment may not be available in many places of detention, particularly in low-income countries or those affected by conflict. Such facilities are often overcrowded, which prevents physical distancing. They may also lack ventilation and have insufficient health care, contributing to the easy transmission of infectious disease.
“Prisons are not walled off from the world when it comes to disease transmission. Viruses can enter and leave a detention facility through family visits, detention staff, delivery personnel and detainees who enter or leave when newly sentenced or going to court. Detainee health must be protected, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also for the good of wider society,” Vincent Ballon, the head of ICRC’s detention unit.