Qatar coronavirus cases pass 100,000 mark

(AFP/FIle)
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Updated 06 July 2020

Qatar coronavirus cases pass 100,000 mark

  • Qatar has one of the world’s highest per capita infection rate

DOHA: Qatar passed the milestone of 100,000 coronavirus cases on Monday, the health ministry said, as the country presses ahead with plans to re-open its economy.
The gas-rich emirate has one of the world’s highest per capita infection rates with 100,345 people, 3.65 percent of its 2.75 million population, having tested positive for COVID-19.
Almost 94,000 of those infected have recovered and 133 people have died, one of the lowest reported death rates globally.
Wealthy Qatar has a higher testing rate than many other countries, having screened 386,111 people — 14 percent of the population.
“Measures taken to tackle COVID-19 in Qatar have succeeded in flattening the curve and limiting the spread of the virus,” the ministry of public health said in a statement, adding there were a total of 546 new cases and five deaths in the last 24 hours.
“We are seeing a rise in the number of deaths in recent weeks and this is due to the people who were infected at the height of the virus several weeks ago.”
Qatar has continued to reopen segments of its economy in recent weeks subject to strict social distancing measures as the average daily number of new cases has continued to fall.
In the past seven days there were an average of 748 new cases per day compared to 958 the week before.
Sun-lovers and jet-ski enthusiasts braved scorching summer temperatures on July 1 to be among the first to take advantage of reopened beaches, closed since March.
Beachgoers were required to wear masks, have temperatures taken and show mandatory phone-based contact tracing apps, as were customers of cafes and restaurants which resumed limited dine-in services last Wednesday.
Masks remain compulsory in public for those not exercising and private gatherings are limited to five people.


European committee criticizes prison conditions in Turkey

Updated 07 August 2020

European committee criticizes prison conditions in Turkey

  • Overcrowding in prisons prompted the Turkish government to adopt an amnesty law in April that led to the release of 90,000 inmates.

ISTANBUL: Prison conditions and police brutality in Turkey have been criticized by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).
Overcrowding in prisons prompted the Turkish government to adopt an amnesty law in April that led to the release of 90,000 inmates — including mafia bosses — but not those convicted on terror charges.
However, the problem has persisted with a steady increase in the prison population, according to two CPT reports, released on Aug. 5.
The criticisms by the European body are based on its periodic visits to several prisons throughout the country and on interviews with hundreds of people who were held in police custody.
The European delegation examined several personal testimonies about excessive use of force and physical ill-treatment by gendarmerie officers and police forces during custody. Former detainees said that they were kicked, punched and slapped by police who wanted them to provide more information or give confessions.
“Numerous detained persons claimed to have been subjected to threats and/or severe verbal abuse. Moreover, a number of allegations were once again received about excessive use of force and/or physical ill-treatment by members of the mobile motorcycle intervention teams in Istanbul,” the report said.
“In a number of cases, the allegations of physical ill-treatment were supported by medical evidence, such as bodily injuries documented in medical records or directly observed by medical members of the delegation,” the report added.
The Council of Europe reiterated its call to the Turkish government to implement its “zero tolerance policy to the ill-treatment” and to alleviate concerns about legal restrictions on access to a lawyer during the initial phase of police custody for certain serious crimes.
Ozturk Turkdogan, president of the Human Rights Association (IHD), said that Turkey was also obliged to open its prisons to civil monitoring by Turkish-based human rights groups.
“So far, only CPT and the ministry are entitled to inspect the prisons’ physical conditions, undermining transparency and preventing immediate precautions during the pandemic conditions,” he told Arab News.
Another area of criticism is the flawed system of mandatory medical examinations for newly arrived prisoners, as well as the lack of beds for a large number of inmates in the prisons — obliging them to sleep on mattresses on the floor due to overcrowding.
Philanthropist, businessperson and human rights activist, Osman Kavala, recently marked his 1,000th day of imprisonment on July 27 although the Council of Europe has often called for his immediate release.
Last December, jailed Kurdish politician, Selahattin Demirtas, who has a history of coronary issues, was taken to hospital for health checks after collapsing in his prison cell. Family members claimed that the authorities refused to carry out full checks and detailed examinations for emergency treatment.
According to Turkdogan, prisons are still overpopulated as their capacity even with the planned construction of new facilities is only suitable to accommodate 165,000 inmates, while the current prison population is about 200,000.