Similar advocacy notes have been published with a focus on Africa, Latin America and South East Asia.

Prisons and detention facilities are high-risk environments for the spread of COVID-19, as overcrowding and physical proximity make it difficult to maintain adequate standards of physical distancing, sanitation, and hygiene.

At the outbreak of the pandemic, many countries across the world, including France, Italy, Ireland and Poland, took urgent measures to reduce prison population as a key prevention strategy.

As European authorities de-escalate lockdowns and establish permanent measures to manage COVID-19 outbreaks in the foreseeable future, they should retain and expand policies aimed at reducing prison populations, as these are both immediately effective, and sustainable in the long term. Efforts to control COVID-19 in communities could fail without sustainable measures to prevent its spread in prisons.