The CPT frequently encounters devices, such as metal shutters, slats, or plates fitted to cell windows, which deprive prisoners of access to natural light and prevent fresh air fromentering the accommodation. They are a particularly common feature of establishments holding pre-trial prisoners. The CPT fully accepts that specific security measures designed to prevent the risk of collusion and/or criminal activities may well be required in respect of certain prisoners. However, the imposition of measures of this kind should be the exception rather than the rule. This implies that the relevant authorities must examine the case of each prisoner in order to ascertain whether specific security measures are really justified in his/her case. Further, even when such measures are required, they should never involve depriving the prisoners concerned of natural light and fresh air. The latter are basic elements of life which every prisoner is entitled to enjoy; moreover, the absence of these elements generates conditions favourable to the spread of diseases and in particular tuberculosis.
The CPT recognises that the delivery of decent living conditions in penitentiary establishments can be very costly and improvements are hampered in many countries by lack of funds. However, removing devices blocking the windows of prisoner accommodation (and fitting, in those exceptional cases where this is necessary, alternative security devices of an appropriate design) should not involve considerable investment and, at the same time, would be of great benefit for all concerned.