Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that the temporary release of prisoners from jail has been extended till April 19 as a precautionary measure against the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Previously, the Islamic republic’s government had announced that over 85,000 inmates would be out of jail till April 3 as country combats the fatal COVID-19 which has already claimed over 1,900 lives and has infected 24,811 people in the country. Iran is also one of the hardest-hit countries of the virus which was originated in China’s Wuhan in December 2019 and government continues to intensify its measures to stem the drastic spread.
According to reports, the judiciary spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaili had said that only the prisoners who were serving sentences less than five years have been freed, while the political leaders and others who were jailed for charges linked to participation in anti-government protests are still serving sentence. He also said that even in order to contain the drastic spread of COVID-19, precautions have also been taken in jail.
According to reports, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations in Iran, Javaid Rehman had asked Tehran on March 10 to release all its political prisoners temporarily from its overcrowded and disease-ridden jails in order to contain the spread of coronavirus. In the past days, according to activists and rights groups, the Iranian authorities released at least a dozen political prisoners. However, prominent political prisoners still remain in jail.
Moreover, even the United States had said that it would hold directly responsible for any American deaths in jail and had called for the release of dozens of dual nationals and foreigners held mainly for spying. Moreover, the cleric rulers in Iran have also rejected to lock down major cities even as the death toll is rising by the day. However, they have urged Iranians to limit travel ahead of the New Year on March 20.
The coronavirus which originated in China in December 2019 has now claimed over 16,558 lives worldwide as of March 24. According to the tally by international news agency, the pandemic has now spread to 195 countries and has infected at least 381,761 people. Out of the total infections, 102,429 have been recovered but the easily spread virus is continuing to disrupt many lives. Major cities have been put under lockdown in almost all countries, and the economy is struggling. Meanwhile, Spain has recorded over 35,100 infections of COVID-19.