As countries continue to navigate new waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, prisons remain hotbeds for virus transmission. The pandemic has exposed the impact of overcrowding and underresourcing of prisons in Southeast Asia in the gravest of terms – through the loss of life.

The true extent of the epidemic inside the walls of prisons and jails in Southeast Asia is largely unknown because of undertesting and underreporting. As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to spread in the region, it is likely that there will be an increasing number of clusters and outbreaks in carceral settings with implications to the larger community and to the healthcare system. With prisoners not prioritized in national vaccination plans, the ability to block transmission is hampered. No one is safe until everyone is safe, including those who are currently incarcerated.

The aim of this webinar, "Prisons in Southeast Asia: Neglected COVID-19 Hotspots?” organized by Internews, on Monday 14 June 2021 at 2:00 PM (Bangkok/Phnom Penh time) is to help journalists navigate and report on the issue of COVID in prisons with the realization that any control strategy for COVID-19 in the community which does not encompass the prison context will not be sustainable.

The panelists include:

Gloria Lai — Regional Director International Drug Policy Consortium, Bangkok

Karen Peters — Regional Drug and Health Program Officer United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Bangkok

Pravit Rojanaphruk — senior journalist Khao Sod (English), Bangkok, Thailand

Gerald Flynn — journalist, editor Thmey Thmey (English), Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Moderated by Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan, Regional Health Advisor (Asia) COVID-19/Pandemic Journalism Mentor