The Department of Home Affairs will face a civil lawsuit next year over its treatment of prisoners during the pandemic.

Several people who were held on the isolation wing are bringing a civil legal action against the government, relating to events at the prison in April 2020.

The claimants, who include men and women, are alleging that the government’s actions at the time amounted to breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Specifically, the claimants alleged the government breached Article 3, the right not to be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and Article 8, the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence.

The department has denied all the allegations. A spokesperson said: ‘The Department denies all allegations that Human Rights were breached. The Prison measures were a necessary, proportionate and considered approach to the risks posed by Covid-19, which at that time were mostly unknown.’

At a court hearing last week, all of the claims were consolidated into one with a further case management hearing set for June 2022.

Advocate Ian Kermode has brought the civil case on behalf of the former inmates.

Advocate Ian Kermode

April 2020

Back in April last year, as the island was in lockdown, new inmates at the prison were kept in solitary isolation. During the most strict period, they were not allowed to leave their cells, with food delivered to once a day. They were not able to leave their cells for a shower or outdoor exercise. The policy followed the arrival of a new inmate who had tested positive for Covid.

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