22 January. Overcrowded and understaffed prisons around the country threaten the lives of inmates and staff. Detention conditions at St Albans prison are getting worse. The number of prisoners exceeds the prison capacity by 140%.
21 January. Prison officials recruited more than 2,000 new officers. They are increasing health restrictions to prevent infections and are improving the cleaning of facilities. Saut de page
19 January. Caledon prison planned to ease the strict restrictions put in place five days earlier. There were no new cases in that period.
19 January. On 3 January, officials announced that all inmates would be vaccinated during the second phase of the vaccine roll-out. The first phase applied to the country’s health care personnel. The country’s constitution and the International Bill of Rights guarantee that all inmates have access to health care.
7 January. Officials announced that inmates would be among the first South Africans to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
21 January. The POPCRU union called for the resignation of the Correctional Service National Commissioner over surges in the number of COVID-19 cases in prison.
Officials denied the resurgence of positive cases among staff at the East London prison. The prison has been understaffed since the pandemic started.
14 January. The Sapohr organisation denounced the country’s prison conditions. It reported significant overcrowding as well as high infection and death rates among inmates and prison staff. Prison officials disagreed with this account. It acknowledged there were 58 deaths among inmates since January 2020. The 130 prison staff members who died were said to have been infected outside the prison.
5 February. The authorities [counted](https://www.iol.co.za/sundayindependent/news/violence-and-covid-19-take-toll-on-sas-prisoners-d3ccc664-2715 -4e82-903d-f9cc8a8b9bda) a total of 62 COVID-19 related deaths among prisoners.
21 January. Officials reported 9,892 cases of COVID-19 inside the prison, 6,394 of whom were officers and 3,498 were inmates](https://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/news/caledon-prison-may-have-restrictions-eased-amid-covid-19-recovery-reports-901d2ff3-3b91-46c2-a873-6395e19f6d80). Officials reported 192 deaths from COVID-19, 133 among prison staff and 59 among inmates.
19 January. Prison officials recorded 934 active cases inside the country’s prisons, affecting mostly prison staff. Officers who test positive must continue to work due to staff shortages.
9 January. Helderstroom prison announced that 152 inmates and eight prison officers tested positive for COVID-19. The authorities tightened restrictions inside the prison.
Some of the COVID-19 positive inmates were transferred to Pollsmoor facility for treatment.
The country reported 58 deaths among inmates and 124 among prison staff. Prison officials reported 9,428 positive cases in prison since the pandemic started.
8 January. Authorities imposed a lockdown in Helderstroom prison, in the Western Cape, due to a rise in infections. Prison officials announced 87 new infections among inmates. Confirmed cases were placed in self-isolation and suspected cases were quarantined.
Prisons in the Gauteng region have a total of 592 inmates and 1,102 staff who are infected. The Western Cape region reported 798 inmates and 1,178 staff as positive since the virus appeared in prison. The Eastern Cape has 1,215 inmates and 1,127 staff infected with the virus. Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North-West, announced that 585 staff and 180 inmates were positive.
6 January. Countrywide the count is now 3,106 positive inmates and 60 deaths.
25 January. The International Amnesty report accused Egyptian authorities of endangering the health of inmates: “Longstanding issues, such as lack of clean water, poor ventilation and overcrowding, have made physical distancing and preventative hygienic measures impossible to implement. […] Detainees who displayed COVID-19 symptoms were not systematically tested.”. Inmates are sometimes left in their cells, placing their fellow inmates at risk. Authorities refuse to reveal the number of incarcerated people around the country. Some estimate the toll to be as high as 114,000, “over double the prison capacity of 55,000 indicated by President Abdalfatah al-Sisi in December 2020.[…] In the 16 examined prisons, hundreds of detainees are crammed into overcrowded cells with an estimated average 1.1 m2 floor space available per prisoner, much less than the 3.4 m² minimum recommended by experts”.
Authorities released 4,000 fewer people in 2020 than in 2019.
25 January. Amnesty International called on Egyptian authorities to “provide all individuals in their custody with adequate health care, including COVID-19 vaccination, without discrimination. […] The authorities must urgently reduce overcrowding including by immediately releasing all those detained arbitrarily and consider releasing prisoners at higher risk from COVID-19 complications due to their age or underlying medical conditions”.
4 February. Three prisoners died of COVID-19, in less than three days. The three passed away in a police station. Their requests for a hospital transfer were refused, until their situation deteriorated.
6 January. Authorities denied allegations of a pandemic in prisons. They called the rumors “completely unfounded”, and they affirmed there “were no suspected cases, or infected inmates, or deaths from the virus in Egyptian prisons”.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, human rights groups have called on the authorities to release political prisoners to prevent the spread of the virus. These groups repeatedly report that there are many positive cases in prison.
26 January. The prisoner’s association SOS Gabon [addressed](https://www.gabonreview.com/droits-des-detenus-ossouka-raponda-invitee-a-lever-linterdiction-des-visites-des -prisoners /) a letter to the government requesting the reinstatement of visitation privileges, which had been suspended since March 2020, including for lawyers. The association considered this measure a violation of the prisoner’s rights: * “The health crisis cannot continue to affect this right indefinitely […] This right must be guaranteed in order to prepare the prisoners for resocialisation at the end of their detention […] This visitation ban seems to be a double penalty for inmates and a punishment for their families. It is time to lift this measure, while ensuring certain measures are respected, as is the case in all public services and places (markets, schools, churches, administrations, etc.), as these prisoners are also human beings who need to live”*.
8 February. Sanitary measures have been [put in place](https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/prisons-service-calls-for-increment-in-prisoners-feeding -allowance.html) within Sunyani prison. Authorities disinfected and distributed masks and buckets of water for hand washing. Two rooms have been reserved for quarantining new arrivals. The facility accommodates 846 inmates, in 450 available places. The prison authorities revealed that sometimes* “the number of prisoners exceeds 900”*.
8 February. Prison authorities [requested](https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/prisons-service-calls-for-increment-in-prisoners-feeding-allowance. html) an increased water supply in prisons and an increased food allowance for prisoners. The current allowance does not allow them to purchase three meals per day. The prison services mentioned that a good diet, in part, keeps the prisoners in good health and protects them from the pandemic. They encouraged relatives to bring food and protective equipment to protect themselves against COVID-19 during visits.
4 February. The Courts [will only preside over](https://www.businessghana.com/site/news/general/231646/Courts-will-preside-over-only-urgent-cases-due-to- COVID-19-JUSAG) urgent matters, mainly applications for bail and injunctions. The authorities advised that “no one will be excluded or denied justice when needed”.
8 January. Officials received equipment needed to conduct virtual trials. The equipment should speed-up court hearings, reduce the number of untried prisoners and prevent the risk of infection while travelling to and from the various courts.
A member of the court said: “We have been facing immense challenges since the onset of COVID-19 because of lack of facilities, but with the donation, we believe our work will become easier”.
2 February. An inmate at Maseru prison died from what is suspected to be COVID-19. His five cellmates were tested and placed in isolation. The prisoner had been in contact with several other prisoners in the facility. The police could not determine the cause of death due to a lack of sanitary equipment.
3 February. Ibadan Prison [refused](https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/ssouth-west/440373-ibadan-prison-rejects-suspects-without-covid- 19-test-result.html) to accept three untried prisoners. This facility prohibits entry to any prisoner who cannot prove they have been tested. The three individuals were imprisoned in police stations again.
27 January. NGOs [denounced](https://www.radiookapi.net/2021/01/27/actualite/justice/sud-kivu-caritas-et-long-ppi-denoncent-des-cas -de-tortures-dans-les) cases of torture and inhuman treatment in Bukavu and Kabare prisons. Prisoners were forced to pay up to $500 to be spared. A member of the NGO said: “that the excessive torture in these prisons has been verified. Our compatriots have been tortured by some inmates who are directly collaborating with some of the prison authorities. If they don’t pay, they are subjected to torture.”
20 January. The U.N. offered a training session to 27 staff members at Goma prison on the use of proper protective measures.
Mwene-Ditu prison has not had any medication for those who are ill, nor food supplies, for several months. Its capacity is for 20 persons, but currently, it has more than one hundred inmates.
8 January. The United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) released 984 people imprisoned in North Kivu in 2020. 214 of them had been imprisoned for violating measures imposed by the authorities during the pandemic by organising protests and rallies.
17 January. Eighty inmates at Bunia prison have received a presidential pardon. The facility has more than 1,500 inmates, or six times its capacity.
20 January. Inmates at Mwene-Ditu prison tried to escape. They were demanding to have their hearings. The riot was triggered by the death of an inmate awaiting trial on the night before. One of the inmates said, “we are dying before being tried. There is rioting in the prison.”
20 January. Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State Women’s Association [paid](https://radiotamazuj.org/en/news/article/northern-bahr-el- ghazal-releases-14-prison-inmates) several fines allowing the release of 14 inmates from Aweil prison. The prison administration encouraged the authorities and supporters to do the same for inmates imprisoned for “minor” offences. The prison currently has 429 inmates.
24 January. A corporation donated personal protective equipment to contain the spread of COVID-19 among inmates at Chikurubi prison. Prison officials called on other corporations around the country to do the same: “Other parastatals should also come on board and help fight the pandemic in our correctional facilities.”
12 January. An inmate in Chikurubi prisonwarned officials of the risk of infections. He feared he had contracted COVID-19 and that his prison conditions might put his fellow inmates and prison staff at risk.
Another inmate denounced the conditions of his transportation to court: “The prison authorities are violating the court order which says I must be in the truck alone. This shows how disrespectful the government is to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.”.
27 January. One hundred and ten inmates tested positive for COVID-19 at Mutimurefu prison, one of the country’s most overcrowded prison.
13 January. A Chikurubi prison officer died from COVID-19. Fifteen others tested positive. One guard from another facility was placed in quarantine.