From the Spanish Flu of 1918 to the HIV/AIDS saga and down to the Ebola virus, infectious diseases have constantly changed the modus operandi in all aspects of human living. Now as if on a roll call, the COVID-19 virus has visited with a magnitude like none of its predecessors. The virus has not only disrupted trade and employment but also regular human interaction to the extent that a person can be infected by an asymptomic person through mere conversation. The novelty of this unseen enemy is that not only is it spread through physical contact or indirect contact but also it also lingers in the air. In response to this, governments of the world have implemented travel bans, movement restrictions and a stay-at-home order.

Currently, the courts are shut while prisons have refused to bring inmates out of the prison or allowed new admission into the prison facilities for fear of community spread of the virus within the prison walls. While the concern of the community transmission of the disease is genuine as there are several reported outbreaks of the virus on a large scale in major prisons across the world[1], the mechanism of the lockdown being put in place begs the question- what happens to inmates who are already confined to a specific place and those awaiting trial. This article aims to address the concerns of prisoners’ rights amidst Covid-19 pandemic as well as to consider alternative sentencing as a panacea for prison decongestion in Nigeria.

Click here to read the full article by Nnamdi Oragwu, Adeyinka Abdulsalam and Sharon Juwah at Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors.

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