U.N. worried about Iran prisoners amid coronavirus outbreak

Iran to give no quarter in stand-off with U.S Supreme leader
Iran to give no quarter in stand-off with U.S Supreme leader

A United Nations rights official onFriday voiced concern over prisoners after reports of unrest infacilities prompted by worries over a coronavirus outbreak in countriesincluding Iran, one of the worst-hit in the world.

With the end of New Year holidays in Iran, state televisionannounced that enterprises involved in production would be allowed to re-openon Saturday while following anti-coronavirus precautions.

Workplaces involved in services and distribution that had beenclosed earlier under measures taken against the spread of the virus wouldremain so until further notice, it added.

Separately, Iranian media have reported unrest in severalprisons, and a mass escape from a facility in the west of the country, despitethe temporary release of some 100,000 inmates to curb prison overcrowding.

"As you see in Iran and some other countries, we are seeingriots, prisoners who are afraid, who are distressed at the big loss of contactfrom family members and so on. So there are many, many issues surroundingthis," U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a virtual briefingin Geneva.

Iran is one of the countries worst-hit by the global coronavirusoutbreak. Its death toll rose on Friday to 3,294 as 134 died in the past 24hours, with the total number of cases reaching 53,183, according to a HealthMinistry spokesman.

"Iran … has increased the number it is releasing, atleast on a temporary basis, to around 100,000 prisoners – some 40 percent ofthe entire prison population," Colville said.

"We are horrified at the death of a juvenile offender afterhe was reportedly badly beaten by security officers," Colville added."Prisoners were protesting at prison conditions and the failure of theauthorities to temporarily release them amid the COVID-19 pandemic."

There was no immediate report of the alleged incident in Iranianmedia and officials could not be reached on Friday, the weekend in the country.

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