The decision comes in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 after the virus infected dozens of officials and inmates at correctional facilities throughout Morocco.
Rabat – The General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR) temporarily banned the transfer of detainees to Moroccan courts and of inmates to public hospitals for at least one month to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities.
DGAPR has ordered the coordination with the judicial authority to implement remote hearings for detainees and remote specialized medical consultations for inmates.
The institution is set to bolster correctional facilities with medical staff reporting to the Ministry of Health. The transfer of prisoners to public hospitals will only be permitted in emergency cases.
The decision comes amid news of positive COVID-19 test results of officials and inmates at correctional facilities, explained the press release.
DGAPR added that the cases are limited, compared to the total number of residents and civil servants. However, the institution considers the situation as an indicator to contain potential sources of transmission into correctional facilities, which occurs with movements to courts and hospitals.
Judicial authorities rationalized provisional detention and reduced the number of detainees to be brought before the courts, according to the same source.
Despite the early preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19 in penal establishments and judicial authorities, the virus has infiltrated the Moroccan prison system.
DGAPR’s preventive measures to curb COVID-19 in correctional facilities include the suspension of family visits, the halt of group reintegration activities, and the application of the sanitary confinement to officials and all employees in the correctional facilities.
The measures are in addition to regular sterilization of the facilities, the distribution of medical equipment and hygiene products, and the allocation of isolated wings to new detainees for a 14-day quarantine.
COVID-19 tests at the Ouarzazate prison revealed the infection of 207 inmates and 62 civil servants as well as a correctional officer.
In response to the outbreak, DGAPR equipped the facility with mobile medical units to ensure the treatment of infected prisoners without further contamination.
DGAPR also enforced the wearing of special clothing for correctional officers and for anyone interacting with prisoners and reinforced safety and security measures at the entrances and exits of the prison.
The news is more pertinent in light of increasing COVID-19 cases in Morocco. The country’s total number of infections as of April 26 has reached 4,047. The Ministry of Health puts the total number of fatalities at 160 while recoveries stand at 557.