Prison blocked inmates’ phone access to Peppi Azzopardi and Xarabank

CCF admits blocking phone access to journalist by prisoners, lifts censorship after IGM intervenes

Peppi Azzopardi, formerly the presenter of Xarabank
Peppi Azzopardi, formerly the presenter of Xarabank

The Corradino Correctional Facility has admitted that it had blocked a landline and mobile number of a journalist so that prisoners would not be able to call him.

In reply to a complaint filed by the Institute of Malta Journalists on behalf of journalist Peppi Azzopardi, CCF operations director said it will be ensuring that the numbers are unblocked.

The complaint was filed after Azzopardi complained that the prison management had blocked access to the landline number of TV programme Xarabank – 21249200 – as well as access to his personal mobile number.

Azzopardi argued that prisoners can call family, friends, lawyers, journalists but they cannot call him because the numbers were blocked. He also argued that all calls are recorded for security reasons so there was no reason why his numbers should have been blocked.

CCF Head Administration and Operations, Randolph Spiteri, replied to the IGM complaint by saying that the management of the Agency for Correctional Services took note of this complaint and that verifications showed that the numbers were blocked several years ago.

The landline was blocked in 2008 while the mobile number was blocked on 4 August, 2017.

“In view of the fact that this decision was taken before the current leadership we are not in position to give a reason why such a decision was taken,” he said.

“Today, the management of the Correctional Services Agency sees no reason why these numbers should be blocked. Therefore, the necessary steps have been taken to prevent this from happening,” he added.

Spiteri later informed the IGM that the numbers have been unblocked.

While noting the immediate action taken by the CCF management, the IGM forcefully condemns the prison authorities for preventing prisoners from contacting a journalist. This is outright censorship and deprives them from access to a journalist who was reporting on the conditions in prison.

The IGM hopes such acts of censorship do not happen again and will continue to monitor the situation closely.