Thailand: COVID-19 Rumors Trigger Prison Riot
Originally published by Human Rights Watch on 29/03/2020
In light of a prison riot at Buriram Provision Prison, Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) are urging Thai authorities to ensure prisoners and detainees have access to adequate protective measures and care. It was reported that the riot began because of rumors of a Covid-19 outbreak in the prison.Thai corrections department had ordered all prisons and detention facilities to suspend visits from March 18-31 in an effort to stem the spread of the virus, which in turn caused tension and fears among the prisoners. HRW has expressed concern that prisoners and detainees do not receive adequate health care under normal circumstances and under international law, Thailand has an obligation to provide medical care at least equivalent to that available to the general population. HRW suggests Thai authorities take preventive measures (monitoring temperatures, PPE, provide medical care for those that fall ill), coordinate with public health authorities and communicate openly with staff and inmates. The UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee recommends authorities take immediate steps to address overcrowding and should consider reducing populations thru supervised release those detainees at high risk.