Cyprus was among the Council of Europe’s member states that marked the largest decrease in prison population rates during the coronavirus pandemic, a special report on the impact of lockdowns on EU prison populations that was published Thursday showed.
According to the report, published in the framework of the Council of Europe’s SPACE I project researchers at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, between January 1 and April 15, Cyprus released 15.9% of inmates at the Central Prisons as a preventative measure related to the coronavirus outbreak.
Prison administrations across 20 member states preventatively released over 128,000 inmates during the first months of the pandemic, the report showed.
The majority of these inmates (102,944) were released after April 15 from prisons in Turkey, which had until then the second biggest prison population in Europe. Specifically, between April 15 and May 4, Turkey released 35.3% of its prison population as a preventative measure in view of its coronavirus outbreak.
Italy released 5,739 inmates, Spain released 4,356, and Portugal released 1,874, the report showed.
In Cyprus, from a total of 762 inmates, 121 of these were released, bringing much needed decongestion to the overcrowded Central Prisons in Nicosia which can hold just 566 prisoners.
On April 15, Cyprus recorded a total of 616 inmates, a figure which includes detainees awaiting to appear before a court.
According to the report, Cyprus prisons were relatively clear of the virus, with just a pre-trial detainee that was newly admitted into the Central Prisons testing positive for the virus on April 7 but who did not come into contact with other inmates.
Since March, all incoming inmates are tested for the virus prior to being admitted into the prison. On April 10, police said they would not accept any detainees into their cells without proof that they are negative for coronavirus.