Vietnam urged to free prisoners of conscience over Covid-19
Rights groups say harsh conditions leave inmates vulnerable to coronavirus
Rights groups have asked communist Vietnam to release all prisoners of conscience as a way to save them from the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
On April 4, Vietnam-based Human Rights Defenders said the pandemic is spreading across Vietnam and the number of infections may surge if the government fails to apply proper measures or demand all citizens strictly obey preventive measures.
The group, which works to systematically report and document serious human rights violations in the country, said prisoners of conscience and people being held at prison camps and temporary detention centers are most vulnerable to Covid-19 infection.
It reported that the communist government keeps at least 240 prisoners of conscience in severe conditions. They are held in large numbers in stuffy cells, have low-quality food, lack proper medical services and many are placed in solitary confinement or beaten by prison guards and inmates for protesting inhumane treatment.
Families of prisoners of conscience have recently not been allowed to send food and money to them, so they live on inadequate food provided by prisons.