The DGAPR lauded the effectiveness of its multi-level precautionary measures and actions, citing “very low rates” of COVID-19 infections in detention centers.
Rabat – The General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR) in Morocco has revealed its action plan to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Moroccan prisons. The plan is currently effective until the end of August.
The DGAPR issued a report detailing the plan and said it is based on the delegation’s commitment to objectivity in evaluating the epidemiological situation in the Moroccan cities and regions that play host to prisons.
The report stressed that the effectiveness of the action plan depends on individual penal institutions’ adherence to government-mandated health and security measures. The report also emphasized flexibility and prudence in the lifting of quarantine for prison officials and said such measures must consider the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in penal establishments and within specific Moroccan regions.
Measures balance containment and quality of life
New detainees will be subject to medical examinations to confirm their COVID-19 status. The DGAPR report says prison administrators will pay particular attention to “vulnerable groups” such as the sick, the elderly, women, and minors to ensure they do not come into contact with virus carriers.
The action plan is also set to control the movement of inmates within facilities, prohibiting unauthorized movement between rooms and wards.
Prisons will reinstate cultural, artistic, and sports programs in accordance with preventive health measures. The initial revival is set to include religious gatherings, creative activities, and psychological counseling and support.
Craft programs, such as face mask production, will proceed as the DGAPR’s contribution to national anti-coronavirus efforts. Since May 5, 100 prisoners in 21 prison institutions across Morocco have produced 20,000 face masks per day, in accordance with government health standards.
The DGAPR report also details the restructuring of visits to preserve the health of prisoners and employees. Visiting areas will undergo careful disinfection, implement floor stickers to guide social distancing, and enforce safe distances between prisoners and visitors through plastic barriers and the compulsory wearing of masks.
The action plan also includes generating a visitation schedule to avoid overcrowding. Each detainee will be allowed only one visitor, and COVID-19 carriers will be prohibited from visiting. Inmates who test positive for the virus will enter medical isolation with no visitors.
Family visits are set to gradually resume in July, but measures are subject to change given the evolution of the pandemic in the country. Families will be able to make one visit per month while individuals may visit inmates every 15 days.
Remote judicial procedures in coordination with judicial authorities are effective until June 27, the DGAPR report added.
Continued focus on prisoners and staff amid pandemic
Since the start of the outbreak in Morocco, DGAPR implemented a series of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside prisons. The body first limited family visits to once per week before banning them altogether. Prisons have also separated correctional officers into two groups and adopted rotating two-week-long shifts.
The DGAPR carried out a large-scale testing campaign in the last week of April after the detection of a COVID-19 outbreak in the local prison of Ouarzazate, southern Morocco, that infected 241 people.
The administrative body lauded the effectiveness of its multi-level precautionary measures and actions, citing “very low rates” of COVID-19 infections in detention centers: 340 inmates (0.4% of the total prison population) have tested positive for COVID-19, while 110 officials (0.95%) have contracted the virus.
The administration announced on May 7 that Moroccan prisons are reining in the spread of COVID-19 after mitigating several outbreaks. With the official action plan, the DGAPR hopes to effectively tackle the threat of contamination by the end of the summer while upholding its commitment to national solidarity amid the pandemic.