The monitoring and field visits team of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) started the second phase of the exceptional visits to follow up on the precautionary measures undertaken by the State to limit the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. During the follow-up phase, the team held meetings with the Penal and Correctional Institutions Department, the Capital Security Department, the Search and Follow up Department, and the Human Rights Department of the Ministry of Interior.
The Deputy Chairman of NHRC and head of the visits and monitoring committee Dr Mohamed Saif al-Kuwari said that this phase comes as a continuation of the first phase undertaken by the team, which included many relevant authorities to follow up the precautionary measures taken by the state to confront the pandemic and limit its spread, pointing out that the follow-up visits are scheduled to include all the bodies included in the first phase, adding that there are new institutions that will be covered by the second phase related to the right to education and the right to practice religious rites.
With regard to the meetings with officials in the security authorities and the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Interior, al- Kuwari said that the visits team followed up the human rights standards stipulated in international laws and covenants during crises, and in light of these exceptional circumstances that the world is facing due to the spread of this pandemic.
Dr al-Kuwari added that the team examined the extent of the promotion and protection of human rights, especially for detainees, and responding to reports in accordance with Article 3 paragraph 6 of Decree Law No. 17 of 2010 organising the National Human Rights Committee, which provides for monitoring what may be raised about human rights conditions in the country and to co-ordinate with the concerned authorities to answer them.
The meeting with security officials discussed the measures taken to protect the inmates from the coronavirus pandemic, the available medical equipment and the number of checks conducted on detainees and inmates, in addition to the plans prepared by the penal institutions to provide the necessary instructions, and adequate awareness of the means of protection, Dr al-Kuwari said.
He pointed out that the field visits team monitored the extent of adherence to the United Nations model rules for the treatment of prisoners and their living conditions, hygiene and sanitising procedures, washing and ventilation, in addition to the psychological aspect, and the activities that are permitted to be practiced from recreational, educational and sports. He further explained that a questionnaire was conducted on the inmates that included a set of questions related to the instructions they receive or how to prevent the coronavirus pandemic, noting that there is a great focus on the psychological side and the health and living conditions of inmates.
At the same time, Dr al-Kuwari confirmed that the team was well received by the officials of the correctional and penal institutions and said that the officials in the relevant authorities co-operated in all phases of the visit and provided all the aids to accomplish the goals with the transparency and professionalism required by field visits.
NHRC formed a field visits team to determine the precautionary measures taken by the State to limit the spread of the coronavirus, as the team started its meetings with the relevant authorities and quarantine centres in the first phase last April and the field visits and institutions included institutions concerned with the right to health and work and quarantine centers in Umm Salal and Mukaynis, and a number of quarantine hotels, the industrial area, and workers' housing.
Dr. al-Kuwari added that now the team is in the follow-up phase, during which all the parties that were covered in the first phase will be visited, but it will not include quarantine centers in Umm Salal and Mukaynis, due to the discharge of the last batch of its residents, which is supervised by Qatar Red Crescent in co-operation with the Ministry of Public Health and the Emergency Preparedness Committee at Hamad Medical Corporation.
Dr. al-Kuwari added that this phase is witnessing the addition of new institutions specialised in other basic human rights.