Cyprus is among the countries that released the highest proportion of prisoners in the early stages of Covid-19, according to a study by the Council of Europe released on Thursday.
The research, compiled by the University of Lausanne for the Council of Europe, shows that prison administrations across the continent released over 118,000 inmates as a preventive measure during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cypriot authorities gave 121 inmates early release last spring as part of measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Excluding countries with fewer than 500,000 inhabitants, those which released the highest proportions of prisoners were Turkey (35 per cent), Cyprus and Slovenia (16 per cent each), Portugal (15 per cent), Norway (13 per cent) and Ireland (12 per cent).
As regards numbers, Turkey released 102,944 inmates which is the highest figure, followed by Italy with 5,739 inmates, Spain with 4,356 and Portugal with 1,874.
Cyprus, France, Italy and Slovenia all of which had reported overcrowding last January, the report said, “had significantly reduced their prison density by April 15″.
In total, 20 out of 43 prison administrations reported having released inmates to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the report said, by applying various measures such as amnesties, early and provisional releases and other alternatives to deprivation of liberty.
Cyprus along with Azerbaijan, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia registered infections among inmates only while 13 other countries had infections exclusively among staff members.
In Cyprus, this concerned a newly admitted pre-trial detainee who tested positive to the virus on April 7 after taken to prison from the police detention centre.
“This inmate had no contacts with other inmates, » the report said since upon his transfer to the prison, he had been immediately placed in quarantine until the next day when he was given the test. After testing positive he was immediately transferred to the hospital for further action.
The survey said that in Cyprus, since March 2020, all newly admitted inmates have been tested for Covid-19 before their admission in detention. It also said that since April 10, admissions of inmates from police detention centres are not accepted unless she/he is tested negative for Covid-19.