Prisoner seeking to change religion during COVID-19 pandemic
Abram, a prisoner, wanted to convert to Islam. He wished to take part in upcoming Ramadan festivities. He needed the prison's Muslim Chaplain to support his application. But the Chaplain had stopped visiting the prison due to the Coronavirus pandemic. After contact from us, the prison agreed to accept the Chaplain's support in writing. It allowed Abram to take part in Ramadan activities while processing his application to convert to Islam.
What was the case?
In March 2020, Abram applied to speak to the prison’s Muslim Chaplain about converting to Islam. The Chaplain tried to speak with Abram the next day, but he was unavailable. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Chaplain then stopped visiting the prison.
Abram contacted our office in April.
We asked the prison if it could do anything to resolve Abram's complaint. They said Abram should be patient as the Chaplain was not visiting due to the pandemic.
Given Ramadan was due to begin soon, we asked:
- if there was any way Abram could participate in Ramadan
- if they had thought about options such as Abram speaking to the Chaplain via video link
- if they had considered Abram’s human rights, particularly his right to freedom of religion.
The prison contacted its Muslim Chaplain and its Regional Liaison Chaplain. Both provided written support of Abram's application. The prison allowed Abram to take part in Ramadan activities and gave him a Ramadan food pack, while it processed his application to convert to Islam.