On March 13th, 2020, the de facto government declared a state of alarm in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that date, several NGOs have reported the presence of 49 cases of covid-19 in the country’s prisons. Likewise, humanitarian organizations and parliamentary spokespersons have expressed their concern, given that there is unofficial information about alleged cases of political prisoners with COVID-19 inside the cells of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) in the Helicoide, Ramo Verde Prison and at the headquarters of the General Directorate of Military Counter-Intelligence (DGCIM) in Caracas.
Due to all of the above, Commissioner Humberto Prado calls for the release of all political prisoners, as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated, urgent measures must be taken to prevent COVID- 19 “from causing havoc”, “Now more than ever governments should release all prisoners detained without sufficient legal grounds, including political prisoners and other inmates who were imprisoned simply for expressing critical ideas or dissent”.
The situation in Venezuelan prisons and police cells is critical. Prisoners do not have access to medical services, drinking water, hygienic services or garbage collection services. In addition, the de facto power suspended family visits to persons detained in police cells, which was later extended to the prisons, since the declaration of the state of alarm.