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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 28, New Delhi, June 27, 2020

New Reasons for Immediate Release of Political Prisoners

Friday 26 June 2020, by Bharat Dogra

COMMUNICATION

While there have also been important democratic and justice-based reasons for early release of political prisoners, in the new situation caused by the spread of coronavirus infections there are strong reasons for their immediate release all over the world. In particular there are strong reasons for immediate release of all those who have been imprisoned for political dissent and in effect for merely exercising their democratic right to free expression.

Prisons in most countries are overcrowded with poor hygiene conditions and so there have been widespread concerns about the spread of coronavirus infections. This is likely to have been at least one of the reasons behind the jailbreak efforts in Colombia resulting in 23 deaths and injuries to 83 persons recently.

In these conditions many countries including Iran, Turkey and India are in various stages of releasing or considering release of thousands of prisoners mainly with the aim of decongesting prisons. Now it is important to ensure that political prisoners get very high priority when the lists of to-be-released prisoners are prepared.

The UN Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet very rightly stated recently that “ more than ever ( before), governments should release every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and others detained simply for expressing critical or dissenting views.” Hence there should be a strong campaign all over the world in the coming days for the release of political prisoners on a priority basis.

Bharat Dogra, C-27, Raksha Kunj, Paschim Vihar, N.Delhi—110063. Tel: 011—25255303.

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