Muslims in Lazio prisons will now be provided with assistance and spiritual comfort from Muslim clerics and volunteers, thanks to an agreement signed between the regions prison administration and Romes Islamic centre.

The purpose is to provide for the formation of teams of students and graduates from Muslim countries to assist in both the courts and the prisons.

There are some 6,000 prisoners in Lazios 14 penitentiaries, 33 per cent of whom come from countries outside the European Union. Of these, 49 per cent are from north African countries, mainly Morocco.

In many cases the prisoners do not speak Italian and do not know how to claim their legal rights, which in two thirds of the cases would allow them to serve alternative forms of punishment outside of the prison system.

The majority of these prisoners, who are serving prison sentences for minor crimes, receive no spiritual support nor do they receive any assistance from their embassies or consulates.