Human Rights Watch today called on the UAE to take measures to protect prisoners, amid reports of an outbreak of coronavirus in three detention centers.
This came in a statement supported by testimonies of the families of prisoners in the Emirates published by the International Human Rights Organization - a non-governmental organization based in New York - through its website.
"Prison authorities in the UAE should take urgent measures to protect the mental and physical health of prisoners, amid reports of corona's outbreaks in at least 3 detention centers in the country," the statement said.
The organization transferred testimonies and testimonies from the families of the detainees (unnamed for fear of security prosecution) in Al-Wathba prison near Abu Dhabi, Al-Awir Central and the new Al-Barsha detention center in Dubai.
Families of the protesters complained of overcrowding, lack of health care, lack of precautionary measures to limit the spread of the virus, and the lack of protective equipment such as sterilizers, masks and gloves.
A number of families of the detainees confirmed to the organization that "the prisoners in these centers showed symptoms of being infected with HIV or were confirmed," according to a report broadcast by Anatolia.
"Overcrowding, lack of health conditions and denial of medical care are not new things in the notorious Emirati detention centers," said Michael Page, deputy director of the Middle East division of the human rights organization.
"But the ongoing (Corona) epidemic poses an additional grave threat to prisoners. The best way for the UAE authorities to allay the concerns of prisoners' families is to allow inspection by independent international monitors," he added.
"The UAE authorities should be frank about what is going on, and move quickly to avoid the spread of the virus on a larger scale, which could put the prisoners' lives at great risk," said Page.
Human Rights Watch also called on the UAE authorities to enable prisoners to apply social separation, not to resort to punitive conditions such as solitary confinement, and to ensure that detainees have access to health care, according to the same statement.
The Emirati authorities have not commented on the organization's statement, and the UAE usually faces international criticism over the arrest of political opponents and the restriction of freedom of expression, but the authorities repeatedly confirm their eagerness to abide by law and human rights principles.
As of Tuesday evening, the UAE had recorded a total of 39,904 infections, including 283 deaths, 22,740 recoveries.