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Coronavirus: Treatment of prisoners during pandemic ‘inhuman’, MSPs told

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The treatment of prisoners during the pandemic could be regarded as “inhuman or degrading”, MSPs were told.

In a letter to the justice committee at Holyrood, the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) said some prisoners have been confined to their cells 24 hours a day with no access to showers or exercise, as well as a lack of contact with their families or legal representatives.

The Scottish Government put in place new regulations to curtail the spread of the virus in prisons, including the early release of some inmates and limiting the amount of time that can be spent outside.

In the letter, the SHRC said: “We are concerned that some of these changes, and associated SPS requirements of governors, are creating conditions where some prisoners’ fundamental rights are not being respected.

The letter, signed by SHRC chairwoman Judith Robertson, said there had been no assurances given by the Scottish Government on the conditions of prisons.

At the daily coronavirus briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave an assurance that the human rights of prisoners is a “key priority” for the Scottish Government.

She said she had not yet seen the SHRC letter but pledged to “look carefully” at it.

Ms Sturgeon said Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf had assessed different measures put in place to protect the prison population.

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