PRISONERS at the central prisons will soon have round-the-clock healthcare Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou and Health Minister Petros Petrides announced on Monday.
Following a meeting at the justice ministry both ministers stated that providing healthcare for its citizens is an obligation that should be provided without making any distinctions.
The decision to implement 24-hour healthcare for prisoners is part of Cyprus’ requirements towards the EU following an agreement in 2008 with the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee.
“Unfortunately today we are forced to examine promises made by the government in 2008,” Nicolaou said.
These included that medicine would be administered by nursing staff as opposed to prison guards and that psychiatric support would also be available on a 24-hour basis.
The anti-torture committee report in 2008 stated that the existing healthcare system was unsatisfactory and pointed to certain functional problems, Nicolaou said.
“Due to this situation there was an increase in the number of people inflicting injury on themselves, on others and suicide attempts,” he said.
Speaking of the two recent suicides of convicts Nicolaou said “they are not unrelated to the situation at the central prisons which is referred to in the report which we have seen fit to handle”.
Nicolaou said he agreed with the health minister that these problems need to be solved immediately.
“We have decided to take certain measures which will be promoted by both ministries so round-the-clock healthcare can be available at the central prisons,” the justice minister said.
The health minister said he recognised his share of responsibility in the matter adding that any agreements made with the EU need to be implemented.
Asked about when the new plan will be implemented, the health minister could not give a specific date, stating that suitable staff needed to be found first. Nicolaou said he expects the plan to come into operation soon.