The human rights organization Humanrights.ch is concerned about the health of prisoners in the Corona crisis. In a message on Monday, she demanded, among other things, that inmates be released from custody earlier: “There should be a gradation: In the case of particularly vulnerable inmates whose release is classified as low, a conditional release would have to take place halfway be ordered after two thirds of the sentence, »David Mühlemann from Humanrights.ch told 20 Minuten. Pre-trial detention must also be used “more cautiously.”
According to Humanrights.ch, prisons are epicentres for infectious diseases: “The prisoners live and work in a confined space, sharing showers and cells. Overcrowded and poorly ventilated rooms increase the risk of infection », it says in the message. The World Health Organization WHO also issued guidelines on how to deal with the coronavirus in prisons on Monday – and comes to the same conclusion in some respects as Humanrights.ch (see picture).
Politicians don’t believe in the idea
The ideas of Humanrights.ch are not well received by politicians: “The top priority is the law,” says Ida Glanzmann-Hunkeler (CVP), President of the National Council’s Security Policy Commission (SiK). “Because of this exceptional situation, we cannot change the entire prison system.”
FDP Council of States Thierry Burkart joins her: “Our rule of law and the protection of the population against crime must also work in this situation.” As long as the BAG’s hygiene and sanitation measures could be implemented in prisons, he sees no reason not to put someone in prison or to release him from prison early, who by law belongs to prison.
“If we run out of space, we need pragmatic solutions”
It is important for the Thurgau SP National Councilor Edith Graf-Litscher that the same guidelines apply to everyone, namely the recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health: “The health of prison inmates is certainly important, but protecting the population is just as important.
SP National Councilor Fabian Molina also says that it must be ensured that crimes are punished. “Courts cannot change their judgments because there is an exceptional situation now.” However, if the space in the prisons is no longer sufficient, pragmatic solutions would have to be found: “Then I could imagine that an inmate would be taken out of prison two months before the sentence was served to make room.”
Prisons create space through shifts
The authorities are working intensively on the effects of the corona crisis on prisons: Rebecca da Silva from the prison system in the canton of Zurich writes on request: “We are currently preparing for an unusual situation, making relevant clarifications for us and working on preventive measures and various Solution scenarios. »
The first priority was to protect the well-being and health of employees and inmates, to ensure safety and to prevent the virus from spreading with all its might. According to de Silva, inmates who test positive are immediately isolated and given medical care if necessary. “We are currently working intensively on reducing the number of inmates per prison and increasing the number of individual cells,” says de Silva.
«Apply applicable law even in times of crisis»
Baschi Dürr, police director of Basel-Stadt and vice-director of the conference of cantonal judiciary and police directors, told “SRF”: “But there is also discussion as to whether, for example, sick prisoners can be brought together to provide better care for them.” In order to enable care in central nursing stations, it is possible to restart prisons, for example.
The Federal Office of Justice, however, rejects the concerns of Humanrights.ch: “Due to legal certainty, it is important that the applicable law is also applied in a crisis,” spokeswoman Ingrid Ryser said on request. The same rules would apply to the coronavirus as to any other disease to assess whether someone could be sentenced to prison: “In particular, it should be noted that the detained person can be admitted to a hospital if necessary,” says Ryser .