Iran should release all prisoners amid coronavirus — UN

Iranian pedestrians cross a street while wearing protective masks in Tehran on March 10, 2020 amid the spread of coronavirus in the country. Iran today reported 54 new deaths from the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day toll since the start of the country's outbreak. (AFP)
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Updated 10 March 2020

Iran should release all prisoners amid coronavirus — UN

  • "I have recommended to the state of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release all prisoners on temporary release...,” Javaid Rehman said

GENEVA: The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran said on Tuesday he had asked Tehran to free all prisoners temporarily, saying it is “unfortunate and disturbing” to continue holding political prisoners amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Iran’s judiciary chief said on Monday it had temporarily freed about 70,000 prisoners to help stem the spread of the coronavirus in jails as officials reported hundreds of new infections and dozens more deaths across the country.
But UN rapporteur Javaid Rehman said only those serving sentences of less than 5 years had been freed while political prisoners and others charged with heavier sentences linked to their participation in protest marches remained in jail.
“A number of dual and foreign nationals are at real risk if they have not...got it (coronavirus) they are really fearful of the conditions,” Rehman told a press briefing in Geneva.
“This is also my worrying concern and therefore I have recommended to the state of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release all prisoners on temporary release...,” he said. It was not immediately clear whether he meant all prisoners in the country or all political prisoners who remained in jail.
Rehman also described the pace of the spread of the virus within Iran as “highly disturbing” and criticized containment measures carried out by the authorities.
“In my estimation the state has done too little and too late,” he said, in response to a question about Iran’s handling of the outbreak.


Egypt, UAE resume first Qatar flights since 2017

Updated 18 January 2021

Egypt, UAE resume first Qatar flights since 2017

  • An EgyptAir flight took off from Doha to Cairo, making it the first commercial flight in three and a half years between both countries
  • It was followed shortly after by the arrival of an Air Arabia flight from Sharjah in the UAE

DOHA: The first direct flights since 2017 between Qatar and its former rivals Egypt and the UAE took to the skies on Monday, following the end of a regional crisis.
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) joined Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in cutting ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of being too close to Iran and of backing Islamic extremists, charges Doha denies.
The quartet agreed to heal the rift at a Gulf summit on January 5 in Saudi Arabia, after a flurry of diplomatic activity by outgoing US President Donald Trump’s administration.
The first commercial flight from Qatar to Egypt in three and a half years, an EgyptAir service to Cairo, took off from windswept Doha airport.
It was followed shortly after by the arrival of an Air Arabia flight from Sharjah in the UAE.
The resumption of flights from Doha to Cairo will simplify travel for the large contingent of Egyptians living in Qatar.
As many as 300,000 Egyptians call Qatar home, according to official statistics, but many were unable to travel home during the crisis.
In May 2020, frustrated Egyptians protested outside the compound housing Egypt’s then-empty embassy.
Following the demonstration, 18 repatriation flights operated via neutral Oman to comply with Cairo’s ban on direct air traffic.
A Qatar Airways plane was due to also make the trip to Cairo later Monday.
Flights between Doha and Saudi Arabia, which has also opened its land border to Qatar, resumed on January 11.
The row complicated regional travel, divided families and raised costs faced by Qatari businesses.
Mustafa Ahmed, 38, an Egyptian technical engineer, said he was “very happy.”
“With direct flights, life will be easier, especially for families and children, avoiding the torment of changing airports and planes and waiting for hours for transit flights,” he told AFP.
Egyptians in Qatar work in a number of sectors including education, health care and engineering.
Thousands of Qatar’s majority-expatriate workforce, however, have lost their jobs as a result of a downturn caused by the coronavirus epidemic.