Solidarity in times of confinement

Friday, March 20, 2020

With the spread of Covid-19, we are living an unprecedented global health crisis that is affecting us individually and collectively. To protect our health and save lives, borders are closed, people are confined, or isolated. The APT responds to these measures with responsibility, solidarity but also vigilance.

Ben Buckland for APT
Ben Buckland for APT

We are adapting our work and the way we work. We are all working from home, connected online. Our annual General Assembly and our April Board meeting will take place remotely, and decisions will be made electronically.

We are paying close attention to the impact of these measures on persons deprived of liberty. Detainees are particularly exposed and the prevention of pandemics cannot come at the cost of compromising basic human rights, as analysed in our recent blog. We have also to consider how transmission can be prevented and the effect of restriction measures in other types of places such as centre for migrants, psychiatric institutions and homes for the elderly. We want to express our solidarity and empathy with all staff working in closed environments, under tremendous pressure; as well as with all persons who are most vulnerable to this crisis.

We are discussing the challenges of maintaining transparency in places of detention when access is not possible - either because external visits are not allowed anymore or because visiting bodies have decided to suspend them. We are organizing online discussions and webinars with monitoring bodies around the world to exchange on alternative ways of monitoring closed places.

With expansion of confinement, we may all experience some form of freedom restriction and we have to take it seriously but also learn from it. Our priority as individuals and as communities, has to be our physical and mental health. Solidarity must prevail in these complicated times. We are facing unknown territories but we will continuously adapt to provide support to our partners in responding to the challenges ahead.