Strengthening standards for prisoners in the Council of Europe region

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Council of Europe has undertaken a revision of the European Prison Rules, one of the most important standards governing prison management. The Rules also outline key protective provisions for prisoners. Against this backdrop, the APT, together with Penal Reform International (PRI), submitted a joint contribution to ensure important safeguards are included during the revision.

During its plenary session of June 2018, the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) of the Council of Europe commissioned the Council for Penological Co-operation (PC-CP) to prepare preliminary draft texts amending several rules of the European Prison Rules. Although the entire set of Rules would have benefited from the revision, only some of them have been selected, namely the rules on solitary confinement, records and file management, women, foreign nationals, use of restraints, complaints, adequate staffing level, as well as inspections and monitoring.

The revision envisages to align the content of the selected Rules as well as the Preamble to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (EctHR), the standards of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), as well as the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the “Nelson Mandela Rules”).

In this joint submission, the APT and PRI make detailed recommendations to each set of rules to ensure that the revision proves an opportunity to increase the protection of prisoners and prevent human rights violations, and that the Rules are at least at the level of other existing standards, particularly the Nelson Mandela Rules which were revised in 2015. Both organisations urge States to duly consider the proposed amendments contained in this proposal.

The full submission can be found here.