Interim Guidance. COVID-19: Focus on persons deprived of their liberty.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic and as it is spreading, identified vulnerabilities such as the situation
of persons deprived of their liberty in prisons, administrative detention centres, migration detention centres and drug rehabilitation centres, require a specific focus.
Persons deprived of their liberty might face higher vulnerabilities as the spread of the virus can expand rapidly due to
the usually high concentration of persons deprived of their liberty in confined spaces and to the restricted access to
hygiene and health care in some contexts. International standards highlight that states should ensure that persons in
detention have access to the same standard of health care as is available in the community, and that this applies to all
persons regardless of citizenship, nationality or migration status.
Maintaining health in detention centres is in the interest of the persons deprived of their liberty as well as of the staff of the facility and the community. The state has the obligation, according to international human rights law1, to ensure the health care of people in places of detention. If the risks related to the virus in places of detention are not addressed, the outbreak can also spread to the general public.
The series of messages below aim at assisting OHCHR and UNCT/HCT in addressing the specific issues of persons
deprived of their liberty with the responsible services and ministries (Ministry of Justice/Ministry of Interior/Ministry of Health/Agencies in charge of migration and rehabilitation centres, etc).