Justice Minister George Savvides announced on Monday a series of measures put in place to tackle prison overcrowding and curb a potential spread of the Coronavirus at the Nicosia Central Prison.
In an announcement following the first sitting of the ad hoc committee set up to submit proposals on how to resolve the problem of overcrowding in Nicosia Central Prison, Savvides said that the 5-member committee will conduct a study and submit a comprehensive proposal on the matter to the Council of Ministers in six months time.
Meanwhile, he said, given the co-existence of the pandemic and the prison overcrowding problem, it was deemed necessary in order to protect inmates from the potential spread of the virus to take a number of measures, including the following that have already been upheld by the House of Representatives:
- Expansion of electronic house arrest so that inmates that meet certain criteria can continue serving their sentence outside the prison,
- Expansion of the Open Prison programme to incorporate a greater number of inmates based on certain criteria and
- Prolongation of the period that inmates can stay at the out-of-prison occupation centre.
The above, Savvides added, have significantly contributed to the decongestion of the Central Prison.
In addition to the above, he added, the Ministry of Justice and the Prison’s management have taken steps to tackle a potential Coronavirus outbreak at the prison, including:
- A number of rooms at Eden Rehabilitation Centre in Tersephanou has been declared by the Justice Minister as a prison for inmates found positive to Coronavirus and the necessary security measures are in place.
- The Central Prison’s management has taken a number of preventive measures for inmates, personnel and visitors that remain in place.
- A protocol has been compiled that obligates all new arrivals at the prison to undergo a Coronavirus test.
- Measures for inmates moving to and from Courts for hearings of their cases.
- Referral hospital arranged to be used by inmates found positive to the virus, in collaboration with the Health Ministry.