Kyrgyzstan Criticized for Quiet on Coronavirus

  • The OHCHR has called on governments to release the elderly, the sick, and those serving lenient sentences due to the threat of coronavirus infection.
  • According to the Coalition to End Torture, in Kyrgyzstan, there is a risk of spreading the coronavirus in pretrial detention facilities.
  • Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Health says a staff member at Bishkek's pre-trial detention center has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Human rights activists have criticized the lack of public information about the presence of the coronavirus in prisons. In Kyrgyzstan, it was officially reported that coronavirus was found in a prison staff member. However, the Penitentiary Service denies this. All prisons are quarantined. Relatives and other detainees were warned that they would not be accepted.

Michelle Bachelet is a Chilean politician who served as President of Chile from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2014 to 2018, the first woman to occupy the position. After leaving the presidency in 2010 and while not immediately reelectable, she was appointed the first executive director of the newly created United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on governments to release the elderly, the sick, and those serving lenient sentences due to the threat of coronavirus infection. “In many countries, such facilities are overcrowded and lack the necessary hygiene and health facilities,” said Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

A similar statement was issued by the World Health Organization, which noted that “social distancing is not an option in tight spaces in prisons.”

According to the Coalition to End Torture, in Kyrgyzstan, there is a risk of spreading the coronavirus in pretrial detention facilities. Because the investigation is ongoing. “We receive a lot of information from relatives of detainees that they have a fever. Neither we nor their relatives know what the real situation is. The penitentiary service does not provide enough information,” said Indira Sautova, executive director of the coalition.

The Coalition to End Torture believes that all citizens indoors are at risk of contracting the coronavirus. Because the immunity of people in these places is low, medical care is not the same as outside. It is believed that other viruses spread rapidly in this area.

Coronavirus in Prison Questioned in Kyrgyzstan 

Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Health says a staff member at Bishkek’s pre-trial detention center has been diagnosed with coronavirus. However, the head of the Penitentiary Service called on the ministry to disseminate accurate information, criticizing the ministry for not fully providing medicines and tests.

According to the Penitentiary Service, the woman suspected of having the coronavirus worked only in the office, and had no contact with detainees. Thirteen people were said to have been in contact with her. There is no information about them yet. The virus was twice confirmed by an employee of this government agency. The third said it was negative.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), also known as 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), and novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) is a viral respiratory disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It was first detected during the 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

“Doctors in closed facilities do not report to the Ministry of Health. We understand that they are obeying the orders of their management. But we expect the chief doctor to provide more information,” added Sautova.

Proponents of the former president’s bodyguard, who was arrested in connection with the Koi Tash incident, said they were showing signs of the coronavirus and needed to be tested. Human rights activists appealed to the relevant government agencies to visit the detention center and conduct monitoring.

Sautova said she was taken into custody on May 13 in the afternoon. According to media reports, representatives of the National Center for the Prevention of Torture were denied access to the detention center the day before. More than 3,000 people across Kyrgyzstan are currently being pardoned. The law was signed by the President on May 8. The court can consider such a case for up to six months.

“A special commission on the procedure will compile a list of elements of the crime to be amnestied. It will be decided by the court. Amnesty applies to both defendants and convicts,” said Sautova. There are more than 1,800 detainees across Kyrgyzstan. The total number of inmates is more than 9,500.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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