Amnesty International India (AII) executive director Avinash Kumar, in a statement, said regardless of COVID-19, the Assam government must “release all those who have been detained for a prolonged period of time in the detention centers and end their legal limbo".
"Migration status is and must be irrelevant to every human being’s dignity and their right to live,” he said.
While Assam''s move to release over 700 prisoners to contain COVID-19 outbreak is welcome, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal must ensure that those declared foreigners and detained across the six detention centers in the state are also released immediately, the statement said.
As the pandemic spreads, the state government must recognise that around 800 "irregular foreigners" in the detention centers face a heightened risk of infection and must do everything to protect them, starting with their immediate release, it said.
With an occupancy rate of 117 per cent and "inadequate healthcare services", overcrowded Indian prisons constitute a perfect hotspot for coronavirus spread, the international human rights body said.
Global organisations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, World Health Organisation and the International Organisation for Migration have called on governments to release migrant detainees without delay, “considering the lethal consequences” of the COVID19 outbreak.
“These bodies have also urged the governments to release migrant children and their families, and those detained without sufficient legal basis,” Kumar said.
PTI JBL SRY