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NEWS

Short Update: Penal Reform International Paper on “Healthcare and human rights of people in prisons”

FairTrialsAdmin - April 17, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates, prison conditions

The Penal Reform International paper on healthcare and human rights, assesses the current situation of COVID-19 outbreaks and preventive measures in prisons and wider impacts of responses to governments on people in criminal justice systems. The paper argues for action to be taken immediately, given the risk people in prison are exposed to, including prison staff. The paper highlights that:

  • The right to health and hygiene must be guaranteed. In suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 people in prison should be able to access urgent, specialised healthcare without undue complications.
  • Any limitations on contact with the outside world should be proportionate, including by being time limited and non-discriminatory.
  • Isolation or quarantine measures must be proportionate, authorised in law and not result in de facto solitary confinement.
  • States should guarantee access to prison for monitoring bodies. Access of monitoring bodies is a key safeguard against torture and other ill-treatment. It can prevent human rights violations from taking place, but also provides opportunities for reporting ill-treatment and for taking action.
  •  Protective measures should allow people to attend trials and receive legal counsel. In this regard, the note states that law enforcement, prisons, parole boards and courts should take all appropriate measures to protect anybody from contracting COVID-19. To ensure criminal justice bodies can continue functioning, measures such as remote hearings or appointments should be put in place and/or providing recommended protective gear for face-to-face processes. Any restrictive measure – if needed at all – should be individualised and based on independent medical findings.

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