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March 31, 2020 • Urgent Action

Urgent Action Victory! Journalist Given Suspended Sentence (Niger: UA 32.20)

On 26 March, journalist Mamane Kaka Touda was released after being detained for three weeks in Niamey Prison, Niger, for publishing a post on social media regarding a suspected case of COVID-19 infection in Niamey Reference Hospital. He was given a three-month suspended sentence and was ordered to pay one franc as symbolic compensation. His lawyer has appealed the sentence.

March 31, 2020 • Urgent Action

Urgent Action: Prisoners’ Release Law Must Not Discriminate (Turkey: UA 43.20)

Amid growing concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in Turkey’s overcrowded and unsanitary prisons, the health and lives of prisoners and staff are at increased risk. The Turkish government is preparing a draft law that will reportedly lead to the release of up to 100,000 prisoners but would exclude those who have been imprisoned unfairly under anti-terror laws simply for exercising their rights, including journalists, human rights defenders, and people in pre-trial detention.

March 31, 2020 • Urgent Action

Urgent Action Update: Supreme Court Confirms Verdict in an Unfair Trial (United Arab Emirates: UA 38.19)

On 17 February 2020, the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi confirmed the verdict against five Lebanese men including Abdel Rahman Talal Chouman, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, as well as Ahmed Nimr Sobeh and another man who were sentenced to 10 years in prison on “terrorism” charges. The three men had been sentenced by the Federal Appeal Court in a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards.

March 30, 2020 • Urgent Action

Urgent Action: Journalist Faces Prison for Radio Comment (Russian Federation: UA 42.20)

Journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva is facing criminal charges of “justification of terrorism”, punishable by seven years in prison, for her comment on a local radio station in Pskov, north-western Russia, made on 8 November 2018. She criticized the government and expressed her views on why youth are radicalized. The charges against Svetlana Prokopyeva stem solely from her exercise of her right to freedom of expression and should be dropped.

March 30, 2020 • Urgent Action

Urgent Action Update: Journalist at Risk of Arrest (Nigeria: UA 153.18)

Samuel Ogundipe, a journalist with Premium Times, an investigative newspaper in Nigeria, is currently in hiding. He is being hounded by officials of Nigeria’s Department of State Security (DSS) for revealing a leaked memo exposing an alleged fight for control within the President’s inner circle. On 1 March, unidentified persons lurked around his home in a suspicious manner.

March 27, 2020 • Urgent Action

Urgent Action Update: Prisoners Released Having Served Sentences (Bahrain: UA 23.19)

On 5 March 2020, prisoner of conscience, Hajer Mansoor Hassan, was released from Isa Town Detention Centre for Women in Bahrain, having served her full three-year sentence after a grossly unfair trial. Her nephew, Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor, also sentenced to prison in the same case, was released on 11 March 2020.

March 27, 2020 • Urgent Action

Urgent Action Victory! Transgender Activist Released (Egypt: UA 43.19)

On 15 July 2019, State Security Prosecution ordered the release of 19-year-old transgender woman human rights defender Malak al-Kashef after more than 120 days in pre-trial detention since her arrest. On 6 March 2019, National Security Agency (NSA) officers arrested Malak at her family’s residence in Giza. Malak’s arrest was part of a massive arrest campaign that followed the 27 February 2019 fire incident at Cairo’s main train station, which killed 25 people.

March 27, 2020 • Urgent Action

Urgent Action Victory! Musician Released on Probation (Egypt: UA 27.19)

On 13 May 2019, 33-year-old musician Rami Sidky was released on probation after 374 days of pre-trial detention. Rami was detained on 5 May 2018 in connection with a song criticizing president Abdelfatah al-Sisi. According to his lawyer, he neither wrote, nor produced, nor performed the satirical song.

March 26, 2020 • Urgent Action

Urgent Action: Prisoners at Risk of Covid-19 Infection (Iran: UA 40.20)

The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release hundreds of prisoners of conscience amid grave fears over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iran’s prisons. The authorities should take measures to protect the health of all prisoners and urgently consider releasing pre-trial detainees and those who may be at particular risk of severe illness or death.

March 26, 2020 • Urgent Action

Urgent Action: Punjab Prisoners At Heightened Risk of Covid-19 (Pakistan: UA 39.20)

An inmate at Camp Jail, with a prison population of 3,500 people, in the provincial capital Lahore tested positive for coronavirus before being transferred to a medical facility. Prisons in Punjab face massive overcrowding, with limited hygiene supplies and insufficient access to healthcare. Forcing inmates to practice social distancing would be impossible, given the overcrowding, drastically increasing the potential for the virus to spread. Pakistani authorities must protect the health of all prisoners and should urgently consider measures to reduce the prison population. Should the government fail to act now, Pakistani prisons and detention centers could become hotspots for the transmission of coronavirus.

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