Nearly 100 per cent of the more than 37,000 detainees nationwide have received a second dose of Covid-19 vaccine, with only a small number of them remaining unvaccinated including those with underlying health conditions, according to the General Department of Prisons (GDP).
GDP spokesperson Nout Savna said detainees had received the Sinovac, Sinopharm, Johnson& Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group Licadho, observed that current prison conditions were still overcrowded. He said that previously, more than 10 prisons had been hit with Covid-19 and some inmates had died because of their pre-existing health conditions.
The health of inmates, he said, was still at high risk if there is an outbreak of Covid-19, which is easily transmitted due to overcrowding and poor sanitation.
“Measures to prevent and contain the spread of Covid-19 in prisons are necessary. Previously, the GDP and relevant institutions had protected and prevented it, including by vaccinating detainees. But we see that there are still Covid-19 cases in prisons.”
He suggested that a third dose, or booster shot, for inmates be provided. And what is just as important, he added, is to find ways to reduce overcrowding through the recent decision by the Ministry of justice to conditionally release detainees.
He continued that the release on bail and the possibility of releasing vulnerable detainees – pregnant women, women with children, minors, chronically ill, and environmental, human rights and social work activists – can help reduce overcrowding.