Iran temporarily releases 70,000 prisoners as coronavirus cases surge
Iran has temporarily freed about 70,000 prisoners to combat the spread of the coronavirus in jails, the head of the judiciary said on Monday, as officials reported hundreds of new infections and dozens more deaths across the country, Reuters reports.
Iran has reported 595 new infections and 43 new deaths within the past 24 hours. This takes total cases of coronavirus to 7,161, with 237 deaths, the health ministry spokesman said.
Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi announced the temporary release of prisoners as Iranian authorities seek to counter one of the worst national outbreaks outside China, where the new virus originated, and one of the highest death rates from the illness.
Raisi said the release of prisoners would continue “to the point where it doesn’t create insecurity in society”, according to the Mizan news site of the judiciary.
He did not give further details or specify when those released would have to return to jail.
Iranian prisoners have been infected with coronavirus, the United Nations said on Monday.
“Recent reports indicate that the COVID-19 virus has spread inside Iranian prisons,” Javaid Rehman, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said in Geneva on Monday.