COVID-19: Iran extends prisoner furloughs, closure of holy sites

April 19, 2020
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<!– President Hassan Rouhani of Iran –>

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday announced extended furloughs for prisoners for another month to stem the spread of coronavirus in its crowded jails.

The Islamic nation reported the temporary release of 100,000 prisoners since February – including prisoners of conscience and dual and foreign nationals.

“Furloughs of those prisoners, who pose no threat to the society, have been extended until May 20,’’ Rouhani said in a televised cabinet meeting.

However, a letter by U.N. human rights experts, including Special Rapporteur on Iran, Javaid Rehman, said “most prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders, conservationists, and dual and foreign nationals’’ remained imprisoned in Iran.

Rouhani said mosques and holy sites in Iran would remain closed until at least May 4, as the Middle East’s worst-hit country tries to contain the fast-spreading outbreak.

“Mosques and religious centres will remain closed for the next two weeks. Decisions on gatherings during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan will be taken next week,’’ Rouhani said.

Schools and universities remain closed, and a ban on cultural, religious and sports gatherings has been imposed.

Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus has risen by 87 to 5,118, Health Ministry spokesman, Kianush Jahanpur, said in a statement on state TV on Sunday.

The total number of infected cases in the Islamic Republic has reached 82,211, he said.

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