Scots prisons breach human rights during lockdown

Prison

Some prisoners are in cells 24 hours a day 

18th May 2020 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Conditions in Scots prisons during the coronavirus outbreak are breaching human rights.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has written to the Justice Committee at the Scottish Parliament to highlight concerns about measures being taken in prisons during the covid-19 pandemic.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has written to the Justice Committee at the Scottish Parliament to highlight concerns about measures being taken in prisons during the covid-19 pandemic.

In the letter the commission highlights serious based on the commissioner’s review of the amended rules and the action required by prison governors.

It said prisoners are being confined to their cell for 24 hours a day, for extended periods of time, with no access to shower facilities or time out of cell including access to outdoor exercise

It also said prisoners who are confined in their cells for covid-19 related reasons being given only limited telephone contact with their lawyer as well as some detainees being unable to maintain any form of telephone contact with their families.

Judith Robertson, chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said: “The commission is deeply concerned about the current conditions being experienced by some people within Scotland’s prisons. People in prison are likely to be more vulnerable to the risks and impacts of covid-19.

“Measures taken to protect health cannot override people’s fundamental rights. It is not acceptable to confine anyone to their cell for 24 hours a day, with no access to shower facilities or outdoor exercise, and with limited contact with the outside world.

“Given the serious nature of our concerns, we have urged the Scottish Government to take action to ensure that all prisoners are being held in conditions which are fully in accordance with the state’s human rights obligations. To date, we have not received the assurances we would wish to see in this regard.”

Measures amounting to solitary confinement for healthcare reasons should only be adopted on the basis of a comprehensive medical assessment. Solitary confinement, which carries significant mental and physical health impacts, should only ever be adopted where it is proportionate, limited in time and subject to procedural safeguards.

The commission said it is also concerned about the lack of transparent and accessible data currently available to enable adequate monitoring of prison conditions and their impacts.