MP’s requests for additional info on prison restraint chair go unanswered

Miguela Xuereb

Following confirmations that a prisoner was restrained to a chair last year – though the authorities are denying that the practice was being used as a punitive measures – the Nationalist Party’s home affairs spokesperson Beppe Fenech Adami sought to clarify a number of details about the incident.

But Fenech Adami’s requests for additional detail went unanswered by Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri.

Last week, in reply to a parliamentary question by Fenech Adami, Camilleri had denied the existence of a punishment chair whilst confirming that a prisoner had been restrained on a chair for around 15 minutes last year so that he would not be a danger to himself. He highlighted that prisons regulations, which prohibit the punitive use of restraints, do provide their use in specific circumstances, either at the discretion of the Director of Prisons or on medical grounds.

In the wake of this reply, Fenech Adami asked Camilleri at least six questions – MPs are limited to asking no more than 6 questions per sitting – on the incident that took place last year. Fenech Adami asked Camilleri to confirm:

  • Which prison official gave the order to restrain the prisoner;
  • How the prisoner was being restrained;
  • The date and time in which the incident took place;
  • The room in which the incident took place;
  • Whether a doctor was present;
  • The age of the prisoner who was restrained.

But in each case, Camilleri simply referred the MP to his original reply, which did not address any of the above questions.