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CCSJ, GCL call for better living conditions

The Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) and The Greater Caribbean for Life (GCL) have called on local and regional authorities to ensure there are humane living conditions for those on death row.

The two organisations made the call in a media release last Wednesday, a week ahead of the observance of the 16th World Day Against the Death Penalty on October 10. This year, the World Day will focus on the living conditions of those sentenced to death.

In the release, Leela Ramdeen, Chair of CCSJ & GCL, stated “Too often the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) are ignored and many prisoners on death row are confined to harsh and inhumane conditions. A revised version of the 1955 Rules was adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly on 17 Dec 2015. The Rules set out ‘the minimum standards for good prison management, including to ensure the rights of prisoners are respected.’”

Inhuman living conditions on death rows also include overcrowding, solitary confinement, substandard physical and psychological health care, a lack of access to sufficient religious services and insufficient access to natural light, fresh air and outdoor activities as many are confined in small cells for up to 23 hours per day, said the release.

“While we all take action to reduce crime and address the needs of victims, let us not lose our humanity by trampling on the dignity of those on death rows. This diminishes all of us.”

The full text of the release is available on the CCSJ’s website, www.rcsocialjusticett.org