- Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
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Honorable Mr Arif Alvi
President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Email: [email protected]
Dear President Arif Alvi,
I am writing out of concern for prisoners in Pakistan who must be protected from the COVID-19 outbreak. I am alarmed that a prisoner at the Lahore Camp Jail, with a prison population of 3,500 people, tested positive for the virus on 24 March and all bail orders now stand suspended. Jails in Punjab are worryingly overcrowded, meaning social distancing is not an option for prisoners. Unsanitary conditions mean that preventative steps such as washing hands are harder to follow. The right to health is guaranteed under several human rights treaties. Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) includes the “prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases” as a part of the right to health. In the context of a spreading epidemic, this includes the obligation on states to ensure that preventive care, goods, services and information are available and accessible to all persons.
Should the government fail to act now, Pakistani prisons and detention centers could quickly become hotspots for the transmission of coronavirus. I urge you to release immediately and unconditionally all those detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights; consider if the outbreak qualifies certain prisoners for parole or early release, especially older detainees who no longer pose a threat to the public; an ensure that all prisoners enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community, including when it comes to testing, prevention and treatment of COVID-19.