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Prisons Service controller says premium is on corrective, reformative roles

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The Nigeria Prisons Service places premium on correcting and reforming inmates so as to transform them into responsible members of the society on discharge, according to Mr Emmanuel Okoro, an official of the service.

Okoro, Controller of the Prisons Service in Nasarawa State, stated this on Thursday in Lafia, when he paid a courtesy visit to the Nasarawa State Governor, Umaru Al-Makura.

“The nation’s Prisons service is committed to its core values of reformative and corrective roles in the lives of inmates so that they will become responsible assets to the society after serving their terms.

“It has remained our cardinal policy and major focus,” he said.

Okoro commended the assistance of the governor toward improving the welfare of inmates in the five prison formations in the state, but urged him to intervene in the areas of vehicles, infrastructure and other sundry issues.

Al-Makura, in a response, said that government would strive to make the prisons better for the inmates, and commended the officials for paying special attention to reforming those brought under their care.

Foreign

WHO, other UN agencies call for more prevention and control measures in prisons

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World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday joined a group of UN officials in urging all countries to enhance prevention and control measures in respect to vulnerable populations in places of detention.

“Today, I joined leaders from the global health, human rights and development institutions to draw the attention of political leaders to the heightened vulnerability of prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Tedros said during a virtual press conference from Geneva.

According to the WHO chief, overcrowding in prisons undermines hygiene, health, safety and human dignity, and health response to COVID-19 in closed settings alone is insufficient.

“We urge political leaders to ensure that COVID-19 preparedness and responses in closed settings are identified and implemented in line with fundamental human rights and are guided by WHO guidance and recommendations to protect human health,” Tedros said.

The heads of a number of UN agencies, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, WHO, UNAIDS, and Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Wednesday issued a joint statement on COVID-19 in prisons and other closed settings.

“Acknowledging that the risk of introducing COVID-19 into prisons or other places of detention varies from country to country, we emphasize the need to minimize the occurrence of the disease in these settings and to guarantee that adequate preventive measures are in place to ensure a gender-responsive approach and preventing large outbreaks of COVID-19,” said the joint statement.

(XINHUA)

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Roundup: COVID-19 cases climb in U.S. prisons, nursing homes

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As nearly 20,000 confirmed cases and 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in Colorado, the western state’s newest emerging battlegrounds are prisons and nursing homes, a trend also seen across the United States.

On Monday, a second inmate, 61, died at Sterling Correctional Facility in northeastern Colorado, and the number of active cases among inmates there has swelled by more than a third to 327, according to the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC).

The update was posted online on Monday as part of a new state prisons database reporting the results of coronavirus testing at prisons across the state.

Last week, an 83-year-old inmate died from COVID-19, CDOC officials said.

Since May, the pandemic has been hitting prisons hard. In Ohio, more than 20 percent of the people infected with coronavirus were prisoners. In Arkansas, almost half of the state’s cases were in prisons and nursing homes, according to a CNN report.

More than 1,000 inmates have tested positive for the virus, according to the Arkansas Department of Health, and 876 of them were in one prison facility.

CASES SURGE

Recent weeks have seen a rapid jump of infectious cases in nursing homes across the United States.

CNN last week reported that more than 30 percent of Arkansas’ coronavirus deaths were nursing home residents. In New Hampshire, long-term care facility residents accounted for around 80 percent of the state’s fatalities.

Last week, the Louisiana Department of Health reported that 688 nursing home residents had died and an additional 50 deaths were reported among residents of other adult residential facilities.

Louisiana recorded 30,399 COVID-19 cases and 2,167 related deaths, Johns Hopkins University’s data showed.

In the country’s northwest, more than 50 percent of New Jersey’s deaths came from long-term care facilities, according to data posted by the New Jersey Department of Health.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he spoke with the National Guard over the possibility of using non-medical members to assist nursing homes.

“Based on our numbers in long-term care to date, we took some very aggressive action early on and I think at this point it’s time to take further steps to address some of the long-term care testing issues,” New Hampshire Health Commissioner Lori Shibinette was quoted by CNN as saying.

“To date, we have tested over 1,000 nursing home residents across the state, which is a great number, we want to test more,” Shibinette said.

About 111 people have died in New Hampshire, near 80 percent of whom were related to long-term care facility outbreaks, said Shibinette.

CALLING FOR TRANSPARENCY

With the caseload from nursing homes growing, officials have been addressing requests from family members for greater transparency and communication.

“As the coronavirus continues to isolate families from their loved ones, providing swift and accurate information on coronavirus cases should be the bare minimum we expect from nursing home facilities,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a letter to the federal government last week.

Becerra said he wanted the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to get on board with accurate, timely information to concerned family members.

“These facilities house some of our most vulnerable populations, we must do everything we can to protect them,” Becerra wrote.

“While California is already taking steps, it’s important that CMS act immediately to implement and enforce new national guidelines that will increase transparency and ensure family members are notified by nursing homes as coronavirus cases occur,” he added.

(XINHUA)

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Coronavirus

Turkey says 120 inmates infected with coronavirus in 4 prisons

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One hundred and twenty inmates in Turkey have tested positive for the coronavirus so far in four prisons, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said on Tuesday in Ankara.

The minister added none of the infected was in critical condition.

“All [inmates] are receiving treatment in hospital. There is no inmate in an intensive care unit; all are in a good state of health,” Gul told a televised news conference.

The minister would not disclose the locations of the prisons.

On April 13, Gul reported 17 coronavirus cases in Turkish prisons and said three of them had died of the disease.

There were no confirmed cases in closed prisons at the time, he said.

Turkey earlier this month started releasing around 90,000 inmates as part of a mass amnesty in a bit to reduce overcrowding and stop the spread of the epidemic in prisons.

The amnesty has been criticised for excluding opposition politicians, journalists, academics, civil servants and lawyers accused of terrorism-related charges.

The nationwide death toll from Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, climbed by 95 to 2,900, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Monday.

The minister said that the number of positive cases rising to more than 112,000.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)

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Morocco carries out screening tests for COVID-19 in prisons

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Morocco has carried out screening tests for COVID-19 in prisons after hundreds of detainees in a prison were detected to have the virus, Moroccan official radio reported on Saturday.

The test results of Ouarzazate prison in central Morocco revealed the infection of 207 detainees and 62 civil servants working in the prison, the report quoted a statement by Moroccan General Directorate for Prison Administration as saying.

A medical mobile unit was deployed inside the prison, with all the supplies necessary for the application of coronavirus treatment protocol to infected prisoners, it said.

Two officials at another prison in the suburb of the capital Rabat have tested positive, the statement added.

Additionally, the test results from 47 prisons were negative, so were the partial results from another 10 prisons.

The results of 16 other prisons in the country are not yet available.

On April 5, Morocco released 5,645 prisoners to help reduce the risk of the coronavirus spread in prisons.

Morocco has confirmed on Saturday 3,889 cases of COVID-19, including 159 deaths and 498 recoveries.
(XINHUA)

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AMA

Protect detainees at risk of COVID-19, unclog prisons and release prisoners of conscience

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Authorities in Sub-Saharan Africa must take urgent action to protect people in detention from COVID-19, including releasing prisoners of conscience, reviewing cases of pre-trial detention, and guaranteeing access to healthcare and sanitation products in all facilities, Amnesty International said today.

In many countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, a high proportion of those in detention are there just for peacefully exercising their human rights. As well as being the right thing to do, releasing prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally would free up space in these facilities and help to protect prisoners and staff from the COVID-19.

Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Director for West and Central Africa. 

“As COVID-19 spreads across Sub-Saharan Africa, the severe overcrowding seen in many prisons and detention centres risks becoming a public health catastrophe, especially given the general lack of health care and sanitation,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Director for West and Central Africa.

“In many countries across the region, a high proportion of those in detention are there just for peacefully exercising their human rights. As well as being the right thing to do, releasing prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally would free up space in these facilities and help to protect prisoners and staff from the virus.”

Amnesty International is also calling authorities to consider early, temporary or conditional release of older prisoners and those with underlying medical conditions, as well as women and girls who are in detention with dependent children or who are pregnant.

Across Sub-Saharan Africa, pre-trial detention remains widely used excessively and as a tool of punishment.  As at June 2019, there were 28,045 people detained in prisons in Madagascar which have a total national capacity of 10, 360. More than 75 percent of the 977 boys detained were in pre-trial detention. Children and adults accused of petty crimes in Madagascar are equally forced to stay in overcrowded and unhygienic prisons for longer than the legal term of pre-trial detention.

In Senegal, before the release of detainees announced in March 2020, the country had 11,547 people held in 37 prisons with a total capacity of 4,224 detainees. Similarly, Burundi, whose prisons have a capacity of 4,194 people, had 11,464 detainees by December 2019, of which 45.5% were in pre-trial detention.

The latest data available from Makala Central Prison, in the DRC, shows that in 2016 it held 8,000 prisoners, more than five times its official capacity of 1,500.  While about 700 prisoners were released countrywide in 2019, at least 120 detainees died from starvation, lack of access to clean water and proper healthcare in the same period.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, prisons in DRC were deadly places. As well as exposing the appalling reality people deprived of their liberty face, the virus is exacerbating the risks that detainees face day to day.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, prisons in DRC were deadly places. As well as exposing the appalling reality people deprived of their liberty face, the virus is exacerbating the risks that detainees face day to day,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

Journalists, human rights defenders, students

Many countries in the region have a long record of arbitrarily detaining people for exercising or defending the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly or association, which has contributed to overcrowding.

Amnesty International has highlighted the plight of several prisoners of conscience, who are now faced with the real threat of COVID-19 in prison. These include:

The journalist Ignace Sossou in Benin was sentenced on 24 December 2019 to 18 months imprisonment for “harassment through electronic means of communication” for tweeting remarks attributed to the public prosecutor, who spoke at a conference organized by the French Media Development Agency (CFI).

In Burundi, human rights defender Germain Rukuki was arrested for his work and is currently serving a 32-year prison sentence, while four journalists working for one of the country’s few remaining independent media, Iwacu, were sentenced on 30 January 2020 to two and a half years in jail for attempting to investigate deadly clashes in the country.

Three students, Fomusoh Ivo Feh, Afuh Nivelle Nfor and Azah Levis Gob, were sentenced to 10 years in prison for “failing to report terrorism related information” after texting a joke on Boko Haram in Cameroon. Among people still detained for protesting peacefully either against the alleged irregularities during the 2018 presidential election or in favor of economic and social rights in English-speaking regions, there  is notably the case of Mancho Bibixy Tse. He was arrested on 9 January 2017 and sentenced on 25 May 2018 by a military court to 15 years in prison for “terrorism”, simply for having peacefully protested marginalization of English-speaking Cameroonians.

In Chad, Martin Inoua, the director of the privately-owned newspaper Salam Info, was sentenced to three years imprisonment in September 2019 for defamation, slanderous accusation and criminal conspiracy after publishing an article alleging sexual assault by a former minister.

Amnesty International considers all these people prisoners of conscience who have been imprisoned for exercising their human rights. They must be released immediately and unconditionally.

Deprose Muchena. 

“Amnesty International considers all these people prisoners of conscience who have been imprisoned for exercising their human rights. They must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Deprose Muchena.

In Guinea, activists of the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) are arbitrarily detained for peacefully demonstrating against a constitutional reform project that could allow President Alpha Condé to run for a third term and the holding of the constitutional referendum of 22 March 2020.

Ibrahimo Abu Mbaruco, a journalist in Mozambique, was forcibly disappeared on 7 April 2020 after sending a text message to a colleague saying he was being harassed by soldiers near his house in Palma town, in Cabo Delgado Province in the North. Mozambican authorities are known for arbitrarily detaining journalists in prison, and subjecting them to torture and other ill-treatment.

It is frightening that such a large number of people who peacefully exercised their human rights are now faced with the risk of contracting the deadly COVID-19 in prisons across Africa. They must all be released without further ado.

Deprose Muchena

“It is frightening that such a large number of people who peacefully exercised their human rights are now faced with the risk of contracting the deadly COVID-19 in prisons across Africa. They must all be released without further ado,” said Deprose Muchena.

In Somaliland, President Muse Bihi Abdi pardoned 574 prisoners on 1 April to ease overcrowding in the face of COVID-19 but failed to release freelance journalist Abdimalik Muse Oldon, who was arrested and arbitrarily detained a year ago for criticizing the president on Facebook.

Political opponents and government critics

In Congo, four supporters of the opposition movement “Incarner L’Espoir”, Parfait Mabiala, Franck Donald Saboukoulou Loubaki, Guil Miangué Ossebi and Meldry Rolf Dissavoulou, were accused of endangering state security and have been detained arbitrarily for several months. Political opponents and candidates for the 2016 presidential election, Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko and André Okombi Salissa, were condemned for endangering the internal security of the state in 2018 and have since been in arbitrary detention.

In Eritrea, anyone expressing a differing political view from that of the government is at risk of arrest; thousands of politicians, journalists, human rights defenders and even their family members have been detained for years with no record of their release.

While Ethiopia has released over 10,000 prisoners about to complete their sentences or serving a maximum of three-year jail-terms in the face of COVID-19, the government continues with the unjust detention of opposition politicians and journalists simply for their views or for doing their work.

In Madagascar, Arphine Helisoa, publishing director of the ‘Ny Valosoa’ newspaper, was sent to pre-trial detention in the capital city’s Antanimora prison on 4 April after being charged with spreading “fake news” and “incitement of hatred towards President Andry Rajoelina”, for criticizing the president’s handling of the national response to COVID-19.

In South Sudan, the National Security Service has arbitrarily detained hundreds, possibly thousands, of perceived government opponents, journalists and members of civil society without charge since the conflict begun in 2013. Prisoners rely on their families for food, many of whom are now unable to do so because of COVID-19 restrictions.

In Tanzania, human rights lawyer Tito Magoti and his co-accused Theodory Giyani have been in police detention since 20 December 2019, the court adjourning their trial for the ninth time on 15 April 2020. In Uganda, military police arrested writer and law student Kakwenza Rukira on 13 April 2020 over his book “Greedy Barbarians”, which criticizes the country’s first family. He is yet to be charged.

The spread of COVID-19 is a public health concern even in prisons and other detention facilities. Reducing the number of people in detention should be an integral and urgent part of state responses to COVID-19, which must begin by immediately and unconditionally releasing all those who shouldn’t be incarcerated in the first place.

Samira Daoud

“The spread of COVID-19 is a public health concern even in prisons and other detention facilities. Reducing the number of people in detention should be an integral and urgent part of state responses to COVID-19, which must begin by immediately and unconditionally releasing all those who shouldn’t be incarcerated in the first place,” said Samira Daoud.

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AMA

Prisons Face Covid-19 Catastrophe

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 The Democratic Republic of Congo’s overcrowded and unsanitary prisons are at grave risk of Covid-19 outbreaks that threaten the health and lives of detainees, guards, and the broader population, Human Rights Watch said today.

Since March 21, 2020, magistrates have released just over 2,000 pretrial detainees and prisoners detained for low-level offenses to reduce the country’s prison populations, according to the United Nations peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO. However, many more of the estimated 71 percent of detainees who have not been convicted of any crime or are awaiting trial should urgently be released, and those newly arrested for nonviolent or minor offenses should not be detained.

“Congo’s government needs to take bolder steps to prevent a major crisis in overcrowded prisons and jails,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “It has inherited a prison system that has been neglected for decades and, with Covid-19 at the prison gates, the clock is ticking before a potential crisis unfolds.”

The Congolese government should quickly provide allocated funds to prisons and ensure that they provide inmates adequate food and medical care. The authorities should improve basic hygiene and sanitation, allow detainees’ families to safely deliver much-needed food parcels, and ensure access to legal counsel.

Congo’s main prisons are at 432 percent of capacity, according to MONUSCO, making them some of the most overcrowded in the world. Prisons in the eastern cities of Goma and Uvira are over 600 percent capacity, while Kinshasa’s central prison, known as Makala, is at 461 percent, with hundreds of inmates crammed in together and no beds.

“In the wing I was at until a few days ago, there were at least 850 of us in a space with a capacity of 100 people,” a detainee told Human Rights Watch. “No one can even find a meter of space to sleep, and the situation is worse in some of the other wings. If the coronavirus reaches Makala, there will be no one left.”

Although internationally recommended to prevent transmission of Covid-19, it is not feasible in Congo’s prisons to impose “social distancing” – allowing two meters of separation at all times among detainees and staff, including during meals and within cells. This reinforces the need for the authorities to immediately reduce prison populations.

People in pretrial detention for low-level or nonviolent offenses should be released immediately. Older people, pregnant women and girls, people with disabilities, and people with compromised immunity or chronic conditions that place them at greater risk of Covid-19 complications, such as heart and lung disease, diabetes, or HIV, should also be prioritized for release, Human Rights Watch said.

It is critical to keep transfers from police custody to prisons to a minimum, Human Rights Watch said. Dozens of new detainees are brought in weekly according to UN sources and prisoners. “They [new detainees] arrive in groups and mix among us,” a Makala detainee said. “But we have no idea whether they have been tested – I don’t think they have.” It is not clear whether new detainees are being screened for fever and other symptoms. Clean isolation units that are not punitive should be set up for suspected Covid-19 cases.

On April 2, the justice minister banned deliveries of outside parcels and meals from relatives, the only source of food for most detainees, to mitigate the risks of Covid-19 entering the facilities. Detainees from several Congolese prisons and jails said that the measure has not been enforced since most prison directors recognize the necessity of this support.

In Kinshasa, on April 4, dozens of people camped outside Makala in protest when prison officials attempted to enforce the ban, some throwing rocks at the prison guards, detainees said. “Luckily, they have backtracked on enforcing the ban,” said one detainee. “Otherwise we wouldn’t be dying of the coronavirus but of hunger.”

Covid-19 is primarily transmitted through close and prolonged contact between people and there is very limited evidence that food is a source of transmission. Bans on outside food and meals do not appear to serve the legitimate end of protecting prisoners’ health. While there are some risks that containers could be contaminated with the disease, this could easily be mitigated by disinfecting the parcels according to best practices.

Malnutrition and related illness have long resulted in inmate deaths in Congo’s prisons and jails. At best, detainees get one meal a day, in part because food portions are budgeted according to prisons’ capacity rather than their real populations. Between April 9 and 13, five inmates reportedly died “because of lack of food” in Matadi jail, in the southwest.

In the western town of Mbandaka, the prison rarely supplies food: “Catholic nuns come twice a week and feed us with beans and cassava balls,” a detainee said. “We don’t know which days the prison will serve food, we eat thanks to what’s coming from the outside.”

Since January, prison administrations across the country have had to buy food and essential supplies on credit because government funds have not been received. At least 40 inmates died of hunger in Makala in January and another 20 in February, according to MONUSCO. The prison’s coffers had been empty for several months and prisoners were not fed.

On April 2, the justice minister banned lawyers from visiting their clients. The government should find safe alternatives to ensure that the rights of all detainees are protected amid restrictions due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, on March 25, urged governments to reduce prison populations, stating that “Measures taken amid a health crisis should not undermine the fundamental rights of detained people, including their rights to adequate food and water. Safeguards against ill-treatment of people in custody, including access to a lawyer and to doctors, should also be fully respected.”

The authorities have erected handwashing stations in some detention centers across Congo, but accounts from detainees suggest that access to water and clean sanitation remains a major issue. “There is no water at all here – our families bring us potable water,” said a detainee from Mbandaka prison. “There is no handwashing station here and the toilets are filthy. We’re not just at risk of coronavirus contamination, we also fear other diseases, like cholera.”

In Munzenze prison, in Goma, a prisoner said the number of handwashing stations did not match the needs. In Makala, water is scarce as well. “In my wing, most taps are dry, only one gives us water but it works two to three hours a day,” one detainee said. “Imagine the number of people fighting to get a bit of it. We’re told to observe distancing rules these days, but can this be possible in such conditions?”

“The Congolese government has an international obligation to protect and medically treat the inmates who remain in detention,” Mudge said. “It should give prisons the means to prevent and respond to Covid-19 to protect inmates and staff while allowing detainees safe access to family and legal counsel.”

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6 inmates die as coronavirus panic spreads across Italian prisons

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 Italian authorities were  on Monday struggling to restore order in prisons up and down the country after coronavirus related riots led to six inmates’ deaths and dozens of escapes.

Inmates are concerned about contagion risks within prisons and are angry at a recent government decision to restrict outside visits as part of a national outbreak containment strategy.

The six dead are inmates from Modena prison, where protests broke out on Sunday, Modena is one of the provinces of northern Italy which is under lockdown.

Three inmates died inside the institution, while another three passed away after being transferred to other jails, the head of the prison service Francesco Basentini told RAI public television.

RAI said four other prisoners are in a critical state in hospital, while three prison guards and seven prison infirmary staff were slightly injured.

According to Uilpa, a prison police union, the inmates died of methadone overdose after raiding the prison’s infirmary, but this had yet to be confirmed by autopsies.

Another serious situation was reported in Foggia, in the south-east, where dozens of prisoners managed to escape, according to prison police union representatives.

“The situation is catastrophic, in Foggia 50 inmates have escaped,’’ Aldo Di Giacomo of the Spp trade union told the Adnkronos news agency.

Quoting union sources, Adnkronos reported later that about 20 remained at large, while the others were caught by police or turned themselves in.

Justice Minister Alfredo Bonafede was summoned by the Senate to give explanations about the situation, he was scheduled to brief the chamber at 5 pm (1600 GMT) on Wednesday.

The first prison riots took place on Saturday in Salerno, and have since spread nationwide. According to the Spp union, protests have taken place in  27 prisons.

In central Milan, inmates climbed on the roof of the San Vittore prison and hang banners calling for freedom and amnesty while anti-riot police surrounded the building.

Two prison guards were briefly taken hostage by inmates in Pavia, near Milan, on Sunday, and other violent protests, sometimes leading to fires, were reported in Rome, Naples, Turin, Prato and elsewhere.

The government decree that sparked prisoners’ riots, approved on the weekend, ordered the suspension of outside visits, except for exceptional cases.

It made provisions for prisoners to be allowed to talk to friends and relatives via phone or video link, but also called for restrictions in permits allowing some convicts to leave prison during the day.

Susanna Marietti from Antigone, a prisoners’ rights association, told dpa that sports and cultural activities inside prisons were also suspended.

Prisoners were not properly informed, she said, fuelling panic.

“If people outside [prisons] are scared [about the coronavirus], imagine what it’s like inside,’’ she said.

Italy is facing the worst outbreak of the virus in Europe. On Sunday the country reported 7,375 coronavirus cases, including 366 fatalities.

On Facebook, Antigone President,Patrizio Gonnella called on inmates to stop rioting, and urged authorities to allow more convicts to serve their sentences under house arrest, rather than in jail.

On the other hand, far-right opposition leader Matteo Salvini called for an  iron-fist response and spoke against any concession towards inmates, including switches from custody to house arrest.

Edited By: Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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Correctional Centre (prisons) sends SOS to the judiciary on awaiting trial inmates

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The Nigeria Correctional Service, formerly the Nigerian Prisons, has sent a Save our Soul (SOS) message to the judiciary on the numerous cases of awaiting trial that posed serious challenges to the service.

The Controller of the Service in Imo State, Mr Chris Okoye, made the call when the executive members of  Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Imo Council,  paid him a courtesy visit in his office on Wednesday.

He said that there were many awaiting trial inmates in the Owerri command whose cases were minor and needed to be cleared in the law courts.

He urged the judiciary and well meaning Nigerians to help out to discongest the centre.

Okoye thanked the NUJ members for the visit,  saying that no society could do without the media as custodians of information.

He said that synergy between the media and the service could not be over emphasied, adding that the society had a very wrong impression about prisons that needed to be corrected by the media.

“The general perception about the prison is negative and in bad faith, it is nothing to write home about, but the service knows what it is  doing.

“Through the media, the society will have a better understanding of what the new name stands for and the impact it has brought to the inmates.

“There is a great difference between the Nigerian Prisons Service and the Nigeria Correctional Service which involves custodian and non-custodian activities,” he said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the controller said many positive developments had evolved in the service with the new name.

“The correcrtional centre has evolved a lot of changes with many correctional services put in place, while other activities have been upgraded.

“We have improved the educational services where the inmates now obtain certificates to the level of doctorate degrees.

“The counselling services are now well established with a team of pschologists and counsellors to better improve the psyche of the inmates and properly place them where they belonged.

“We have also improved the medical and welfare services as well as sporting activities to engage the inmates, while staff trianing and retraining through attendance of various courses are ongoing.

“There are also vocational centres for skills acquisition for the inmates, while these innovations from the new name have helped to check jail brakes and protests,” he said.

The State Social Welfare Officer of NCS, Mrs Chinyere Ogujiofor, requested that amnesty and jail delivery services be extended to Imo inmates whenever necessary as done in other states.

She said that it was long the Imo inmates enjoyed amnesty from the government, adding that such acts also helped to discongest the prisons.

Earlier, Mr Chris Akaraonye, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Imo Council, who led his executive members commended the controller of the correctional centre for the numerious achievements since he assumed office.

He said the NUJ was at the centre to introduce the executive and to renew partnership with the service as well as know how the new name had positively affected the centre.

He requested the service to keep journalists abreast of its activities.

Akaraonye described the NUJ as a bridge between the government and the masses.

Edited by: Tajudeen Atitebi

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Erdogan accuses Syrian Kurdish forces of releasing IS terrorists from prisons

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(Sputnik/NAN) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) of releasing captured militants of the Islamic State terrorist group (IS, banned in Russia) from prison amid the ongoing Turkish offensive in Syria.

Erdogan said this at a meeting of the parliamentary faction of the Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party.

“The YPG uses the arrested IS terrorists as a bargaining chip in their negotiations, they began to release them from prisons,” he said.

Turkey launched its offensive in northern Syria on Oct. 9 in a bid to create a “safe zone” along the border that would be free of Kurdish militias, whom it considers an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party.

According to Kurdish forces, over 800 IS militants managed to escape the Ayn Issa camp in northern Syria on Sunday.

On Monday, a high-ranking Turkish source told Sputnik that the YPG had released IS terrorists from a prison in Syria’s Tal Abyad before Turkish troops arrived there. (Sputnik/NAN)
YEE

Edited by Emmanuel Yashim

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