28.1 C

Overcrowding in prisons risks becoming a public health catastrophe – AI warns African govts



1min read

AMNESTY International, a global advocacy group, has urged authorities in sub-Saharan Africa to protect prisoners from the risk of COVID-19 by unclogging prisons, warning that overcrowded prisons pose a public health catastrophe.

In a press statement released on Monday, AI also advocated for the release of prisoners of conscience, a review of cases of pre-trial detention, and a guarantee of access to healthcare and sanitation products in all prison facilities.

“As COVID-19 spreads across Sub-Saharan Africa, the severe overcrowding seen in many prisons and detention centres risks becoming a public health catastrophe, especially given the general lack of health care and sanitation,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Director for West and Central Africa.

According to the group, many prisoners across several countries in the sub-Saharan region are serving time for fighting for their rights and releasing such prisoners of conscience would not only be the right thing to do but would also help free up the facilities.

Highlighting several prisoners of conscience in countries such as Benin, Burundi, Cameroon and Chad, AI submitted that the prisoners of conscience should be released unconditionally.

“Amnesty International considers all these people prisoners of conscience who have been imprisoned for exercising their human rights. They must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Deprose Muchena.

AI also called on authorities to consider early, temporary or conditional release of older prisoners and those with underlying medical conditions, as well as women and girls who are in detention with dependent children or who are pregnant.

- Advertisement -

Buttressing that COVID-19 poses grave health risks in prison, especially because there is a lack of proper sanitation and adequate health care facilities.

“The spread of COVID-19 is a public health concern even in prisons and other detention facilities. Reducing the number of people in detention should be an integral and urgent part of state responses to COVID-19, which must begin by immediately and unconditionally releasing all those who shouldn’t be incarcerated in the first place,” said Samira Daoud.

Currently, Africa has recorded over 23,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 1,000 deaths.

Support the ICIR

We invite you to support us to continue the work we do.

Your support will strengthen journalism in Nigeria and help sustain our democracy.


If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Support the ICIR

We need your support to produce excellent journalism at all times.



2023: Olujimi wins Ekiti South PDP senatorial ticket

LAWMAKER representing Ekiti State South Senatorial District, Biodun Olujimi, has secured the Peoples Democratic...

Lai Muhammed’s son loses bid to return to Lagos Assembly

THE son of the Minister of Information and Culture, Folajimi Mohammed, has lost his...

Peter Obi joins Labour Party to continue his presidential ambition, two days after dumping PDP

A former presidential aspirant on the platform of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Peter...

Twitter investors sue Musk, platform for alleged stock manipulation

TWITTER investors are suing Elon Musk and the social media platform over the handling...

Ekiti 2022: Group reports cases of vote-buying ahead guber polls

An election monitoring group, Yiaga Africa, has raised an alarm over ongoing cases of...

Most Read


Subscribe to our newsletter