From Iceland — Ban On Prison Visits Met With Frustration

Ban On Prison Visits Met With Frustration

Published November 11, 2020

Photo by
Rutepwiki/Wikimedia Commons

Visits to Litla-Hraun and Hólmsheiði prisons have been banned for a total of 156 days (5.2 months) since the coronavirus epidemic began in March, according to Vísir. In open prisons, the ban has totalled slightly less than this at 128 days.

This has led to complaints from Afstaðir, the prisoners’ association. Guðmundur Ingi Þóroddsson, the chairman of Afstaðir, protested that there was only one computer for prisoners to talk to friends and relatives via Skype. “That is by no means enough, by no means acceptable and also not very Covid-friendly,” he said. He described the obligations on prisoners as “cruel” and said that there were examples of prisoners being hardly able to meet their relatives for months on end.

The association expressed no confidence in Minister of Justice Áslaug Árna Sigurbjörnsdóttir and the Prison Administration, and said that the prison authorities had failed to keep their promises. Meanwhile, Áslaug described the no-confidence motion as “far-fetched” and insisted that measures had been taken in line with other Nordic countries to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“We have also repeatedly given them more access to Skype so that they can communicate with their families and children through computer equipment during these operations,” said Áslaug, whose response was also reported on in Vísir. She added that the government is always looking for what it can do to help prisoners, who are a vulnerable group.

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