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Prisoners on hunger strike

Some inmates of Isle of Man Prison have gone on hunger strike because they can't smoke.

The Department of Home Affairs says 'a very small number' of prisoners refused to eat their meals yesterday afternoon and this morning.

While no official protest has been lodged with prison staff, the department says it's believed their actions are connected to the no-smoking policy at the Island's jail, which was introduced in March.

The department says the ban was in line with the introduction of the Island's new smoke-free laws which support the rights of non-smokers in the prison environment to be protected from secondary smoke.

It goes on to say that allowing prisoners to smoke in external yards would be difficult to police as inmates would have be issued with tobacco going out, then searched on their return to prevent tobacco being smuggled inside.

Prison management claims that medical advice shows allowing prisoners to smoke for just one hour a day would be worse than a total ban, as it would severely hamper their withdrawal from tobacco use.

The DHA says that before it implemented the ban it checked to ensure it complied with the Island's Human Rights Act, which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights.

It's pointed out that the prisoners who have refused food have access to food from other prisoners and purchases from the prison shop.

(Picture: The Isle of Man's soon to be closed Victorian prison in Douglas).

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