Annual Report 2022

Covid-19 and detention


detainees benefitted from legal, material and medical support


detainees released in 15 countries

By the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, while cases and deaths had started to decline and restrictions were either lifted or loosened, Covid rules mostly remained in place for the over 11 million people deprived of liberty worldwide. Instead of focusing on what makes places of detention a hotbed for infectious diseases like overcrowding and lack of healthcare and hygiene, these measures were mostly restrictions on family visits and on monitoring by civil society organisations.

In 2021, the OMCT launched a two-year global project to support and strengthen local civil society organisations in 22 countries to improve conditions of detention, restore protection systems suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic and initiate long-term prison reforms. Over the two years of this project, almost 4,000 detainees, including very vulnerable detainees such as children, the elderly and people from sexual minorities, have benefited from legal support, material and medical. Through their advocacy and legal actions, the OMCT and its partners have contributed to the release of more than 29,000 detainees in 15 countries.

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture campaign

To raise awareness about the impacts of unjustified Covid-19 restrictions in places of detention, the OMCT published four animated shorts addressing key challenges, including overcrowding in Democratic Republic of Congo, lack of access to medical care in Kyrgyzstan, detained children in Nepal, and bans on family visits in Honduras.

The OMCT also published three interviews with experts Dr Ranit Mishori, Dr Pau Pérez, Dr Uju Agomoh addressing inhuman conditions, including lack of health care in prisons; the importance of access for visitors and lawyers; and the effects of the suspension of contact with the outside world on detainees and their families. The videos and interviews were shared with our partners in the lead up to 26 June 2022.

In the DRC, 7 prisoners out of 10 have not had their trial yet

Some of them have been in prison for years. The appalling conditions behind bars further deteriorated with Covid-19. We ask for prisoners to be treated with humanity.

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Torture prevention summits

In 2022, the OMCT has organised four regional summits, in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Central/Asia and Eastern Europe, together with partners from 22 countries and with the participation of experts, members of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, human rights institutions, government authorities as well as former detainees and family members, to discuss the future of prison reform, torture prevention, and detention monitoring.

In Honduras, Covid-19 restriction on visits triggered deadly prison riots

45 prisoners have died violently since the start of Covid-19 in Honduras. Their relatives live in anxiety as family visits are banned. They don't know if their loved ones are even alive.

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In Kyrgyzstan, prisoners are denied access to medical care

Raushan had four strokes in prison and finally died after being denied healthcare. She was one of 151 prisoners to die in the past 3 years in Kyrgyzstan due to lack of treatment. Like any human being, prisoners have rights, including the right to medical care, even during Covid-19.

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Empowering civil society organisations with detention guidance notes

In order to equip civil society organisations with arguments and clear recommendations to their authorities on how to improve conditions of detention, the OMCT published three guidance notes on detainees’ access to information, restoring contact with families, and detention monitoring. These notes were built on expert input as well as the feedback compiled through surveys and consultations with partners. They were widely shared with the OMCT’s SOS-Torture Network and many stakeholders in the countries.