Public Defender’s Statement on Spread of Coronavirus in Penitentiary System

According to the Special Penitentiary Service, more than a hundred prisoners tested positive for coronavirus in penitentiary institutions. In order to monitor this situation and protect prisoners’ other rights, the Public Defender, in accordance with her constitutional mandate and obligations, continues to conduct preventive and individual visits to all penitentiary institutions. Representatives of the Public Defender are tested before paying visits, wear special equipment and follow safety rules.

The Public Defender's Office received information about the spread of coronavirus in penitentiary institutions from prisoners and the administration of specific penitentiary institutions. The information obtained at this stage is consistent with the information disseminated by the Penitentiary Service. Infected prisoners were transferred from Establishments Nos. 2, 8 and 14 to a specially arranged quarantine area. Additional detailed information on the isolation and treatment of prisoners has been requested from the Special Penitentiary Service.

The Public Defender once again calls on the Special Penitentiary Service and other state structures to take into account the Public Defender's recommendation regarding the unloading of the penitentiary system. In order to stop and prevent the spread of coronavirus, and to reduce the prison population, it is recommended that the parole mechanism and non-custodial measures, as well as mechanisms of releasing prisoners due to health condition and old age or postponing the enforcement of verdicts, be used more actively.

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