Prisoners brand protection ‘a joke’, disabled are ‘forgotten group’


Prisoners at the Schiphol detention centre and disabled organisation VGN are calling on the government to carry out more testing, saying they are among ‘the forgotten groups’ when it comes to protection against coronavirus.

Circumstances are dire and current measures to combat the virus are ‘a joke’ prisoners at the centre told the Parool.

Six people at the centre, which houses drug smugglers, illegal immigrants and asylum seekers, are known to have the virus. A seventh inmate is being tested for the disease in what the paper said is the worst outbreak of coronavirus in a Dutch prison.

Social distancing

‘There are cases among new inmates every week but guards still don’t keep to the 1.5 metre distancing rule and don’t wear face masks or gloves,’ a prisoner told the paper by phone.

‘We are calling on the director to have us all tested so we know who is ill and who isn’t but they are not doing it. We can’t go to the library but we are allowed to go outside in big groups.’

Despite calls by lawyers for the early release of inmates and more measures to combat the virus at the centre, the justice ministry is still of the opinion enough is being done by isolating infected prisoners, banning visitors and scrapping short periods of leave, the paper said.


Meanwhile, VGN says that disabled people living in care homes are ‘a totally forgotten group’. The death toll has reached 150 and the number of infections is now 810, according to government figures.

However, spokesman Boris van der Ham told broadcaster NOS ‘the fact is we simply don’t know. Not enough testing has been done.’

Some 200,000 disabled people in the Netherlands receive day care at specialised centres and 75,000 live in an institution permanently.  The distribution of face masks for carers has now improved, the VNG said, although the amount of protective material coming through is still ‘slight’.

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