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NEWS

Short Update: Myanmar releases thousands of prisoners apparently unrelated to COVID-19, while placing severe restrictions on others

FairTrialsAdmin - July 17, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates, Prisoner releases, prison conditions

Around a quarter of the prison population in Myanmar, a little less than 25,000 prisoners, were released on 17th of April 2020. Yet, the criteria for these releases have not been publicly announced or explained. According to news reports, the Prison Department explained that the ‘pardons’ were not related to COVID-19. Pardons are unfairly and not according to the rule of law. Prison superintendents may use their power to recommend pardons as a means to reward prisoners who are close to staff. 

Myanmar has also restricted or reduced family visits to decrease the risk of prisoners and staff being infected, which is often a lifeline for prisoners. Families provide their imprisoned relatives with vital foodstuff, medicines and basic amenities. Families typically also provide money that prisoners use in the informal economy to buy and barter for extra food, obtain lighter labour duties, and receive better sleeping places, which are crucial for their survival.  

The particular and significant vulnerability of prisoners, staff and relatives in Myanmar prisons during this COVID-19 crisis must be addressed according to national guidelines and international standards.  

We publish information as it is reported to us. If you would like to make us aware of an inaccuracy or send us more information please email us at [email protected].  

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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