Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, co-chairs of the Senate Human Rights Caucus, and Reps. James McGovern, D-Massachusetts, and Christopher Smith, R-New Jersey, co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, issued a statement April 24 calling for the release of arbitrarily detained Americans amid the ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic.

“As co-chairs of the Senate Human Rights Caucus and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, we call on foreign governments to release arbitrarily detained Americans and all prisoners of conscience on humanitarian grounds immediately,” wrote the lawmakers. “These artists, activists, journalists and more are held unjustly as a result of their peaceful expression of their beliefs or identity, and many, due to age or poor health, are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 as it spreads through detention facilities. It is incumbent upon all governments to make every effort to protect all individuals under their custody, including prisoners of conscience, from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.”

“As partners in the Defending Freedoms Project, which campaigns to free prisoners of conscience around the world, the caucus and the commission also urge members of Congress to continue advocating for the release of prisoners of conscience and to do everything within our power to ensure their health and safety,” the lawmakers continued.