Al-Ahdath devoted an article in its May 19 edition to Moroccan prisoners who, held in France and Belgium, are being released following decisions taken by the governments of the two countries to reduce the pressure in prison centers and to limit the risk of Covid-19 infection. Beyond the risk of contagion, the Coronavirus, which has been widespread throughout Europe, is causing paralysis in the judiciary and forcing lawyers to suspend their activities. The Arabic-language daily reports that only prisoners imprisoned for minor offences will benefit from a possible discharge.
A number of other European countries are following Belgium and France’s lead, in response to the UN’s call for the urgent release of detainees around the world to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic from spreading to often overcrowded prisons. As a reminder, UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet urged governments and relevant authorities “to work swiftly to reduce the number of people in detention” by releasing, for example, “older and sicker prisoners, as well as low-risk offenders”.