Justice chancellor hits out at prisons coronavirus fresh air breaks ban

A prison wall in Estonia (picture is illustrative).
A prison wall in Estonia (picture is illustrative). Source: ERR

Preventing prisoners from getting fresh air breaks and reducing their options for calls to or from family members could constitute inadmissible treatment, justice chancellor Ülle Madise says.

Coronavirus restrictions have also applied to prisons, with inmates largely confined to cells and out-of-cell activities mostly canceled. Additionally, the prison service has switched to remaining on site at a prison even when not at work.

The chancellor praised the banning of joint activities, visits to prison shops, other meetings where prisoners might congregate, and confinement to cells for the bulk of the time, however.

Madise also said delays in newspaper delivery and other correspondence arising from the measures was also justifiable.

Restricting calls to relatives to one contact per week was similarly unjusttifiable, Madise said, noting that in fact in a crisis situation the frequency of such contact should go up, as referenced in recommendations from the UN's subcommittee on the prevention of torture.

In addition, the Chancellor of Justice did not consider it right to restrict calls to relatives to once a week.

Additional features such as raising the number of books permitted in a cell at a given time should also be looked at, Madise said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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