- Parliamentary Assembly
- Text adopted
by the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly, on
29 May 2006 (see Doc.
10922, report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human
Rights, rapporteur: Mr Michel Hunault; and Doc. 10936, opinion of the Social,
Health and Family Affairs Committee; rapporteur: Mr Ali Riza Gülçiçek).
On 27 April 2004, the Parliamentary
Assembly adopted Recommendation
on the situation of European prisons and
pre-trial detention centres, in which it recommended that the Committee
of Ministers draw up a European prisons charter in conjunction with
the European Union.
2. The Assembly regrets that its proposal for a European prisons
charter met with a somewhat guarded response from the Committee
of Ministers. It takes note of the reply to Recommendation 1656
(2004), adopted by the Committee of Ministers in June 2004, in which
it indicated its wish to stand by the existing instruments and to
continue updating the European Prison Rules.
3. The Assembly welcomes the decision taken by the Committee
of Ministers to update Recommendation No. R (87) 3 of the Committee
of Ministers on the European Prison Rules and welcomes the outstanding
work done under the aegis of the European Committee on Crime Problems
(CDPC) to update the prison rules.
It is crucial for the Assembly actively to follow up the proposals
it made in Recommendation
. The situation in the prisons of a number
of European countries is worrying, not to say critical. Overcrowding, illness,
malnutrition and deplorable sanitary conditions are the fate shared
by hundreds of thousands of prisoners. In the Assembly’s opinion,
inadequate prison facilities and the lack of any real penal policy
in some member states and of any proper co-ordination between states
on penal and prisons policies mean that Europe must adopt a robust,
efficient and ambitious instrument to promote a genuine European
prisons policy, establishing fully binding standards and common
criteria for the member states and allowing the harmonisation of
sentences and conditions of detention and the monitoring of their
5. The European prisons charter aims to ensure that the rights
and dignity of persons deprived of their liberty are respected.
Its purpose is to lay down detailed and binding rules applying to
everyone involved in the prison system concerning respect for the
human rights of all persons deprived of their liberty, from the
moment of arrest, throughout police custody, pre-trial detention
and subsequent imprisonment and beyond, while also dealing with
the social rehabilitation of prisoners.
6. The European prisons charter will be a robust instrument when
the application of the principles and rules it sets out is thoroughly
monitored. If we are to establish a fully binding legal framework
for the states parties and guarantee that its provisions are implemented
effectively, the charter will have to have its own appropriate and
efficient supervisory mechanism.
7. The European prisons charter will be an ambitious instrument
when it is aimed not only at the 46 member states of the Council
of Europe but also at non-member states and other organisations
such as the European Union.
8. Lastly, the Assembly regrets the fact that no non-member states
have yet acceded to the European Convention for the Prevention of
Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (ETS No.
126), pursuant to Protocol No. 1 (ETS No. 151).
With a view to promoting the effective implementation of Recommendation
Rec(2006)2 on the European Prison Rules in the member states, the
Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
9.1 draw up without delay a new
convention setting out detailed and binding rules for the states parties
on the treatment of prisoners, on the basis of the European prisons
charter appended to the report which led to the present recommendation
9.2 involve the European Union in drawing up the draft convention
at intergovernmental level through the European Parliament and the
9.3 strengthen the role of the European Committee for the
Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(CPT), in particular by giving it a general mandate to oversee the situation
of prisons and detention centres and the respect of the rights of
9.4 consider its proposal to set up, in conjunction with the
European Union, a European prisons observatory tasked with monitoring
the situation in Europe’s prisons and detention centres, which would build
on the existing Council of Europe structure – the CPT – reinforcing
the latter’s missions.
10. In addition, the Assembly urges the Committee of Ministers
actively to promote the ratification of the European Convention
for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
by non-member states.
Furthermore, the Assembly calls on Council of Europe member
11.1 to actively implement
Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec(2006)2 on the European Prison
Rules without delay;
11.2 to adopt and implement as soon as possible national schemes
to improve penitentiary conditions, based on the principles mentioned
in the European Prison Rules;
11.3 to strengthen, at national level, the crucial role played
by ombudsmen as well as the missions carried out by parliamentarians
for the inspection of prisons and detention centres with a view
to ensuring the effective application of the European Prison Rules
and of the future prisons charter.