Riots have broken out in Qatar’s prisons. In the central prison in Doha, prisoners attacked a guard and burnt several cells. It has also been reported that the administration is refusing to release prisoners even though Covid-19 is spreading within its penal institutions. Rioters are being placed in isolation, without water, food or cigarettes. Some have been transferred to a prison at the centre of an industrial estate despite the quarantine measures in place in that facility. Qatar is the member of the Gulf Cooperation Council with most Covid-19 cases. 483 cases have been confirmed on 22 March 2020.
Reports have also indicated that the country’s largest labour camp for migrant workers has become a virtual prison, with police guarding the perimeter, leaving thousands of workers trapped in squalid, overcrowded camps, where the virus can spread rapidly. A Nepali worker who lives inside the area commented: “we are not allowed to walk in groups or eat in a tea shop. But you can still buy food and take it home. I’m worried about my family back home. There won’t be anyone to take care of them if anything happens to me”.
The GDP has been unable to find any reports indicating that authorities have taken measures to assist migrants and asylum seekers, including those in detention.
- A. Books, “Rebellion Inside the Prisons of Qatar Because of the Spread of Corona – and Prisoners Burn the Wards,” Youm7, 22 March 2020, https://bit.ly/2vMqaQG
- P. Pattisson and R. Sadhai, “Covid-19 Lockdown Turns Qatar’s Largest Migrant Camp Into Virtual Prison”, The Guardian, 20 March 2020, www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/mar/20/covid-19-lockdown-turns-qatars-largest-migrant-camp-into-virtual-prison
- Global Detention Project, Immigration Detention in Qatar, www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/middle-east/qatar