The Covid-19 pandemic has created extraordinary challenges for the authorities of all member States of the Council of Europe. There are specific and intense challenges for the prison population, as well as for the staff working in places of deprivation of liberty. Whilst acknowledging the clear imperative to take firm action to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, actions should be taken so that protective measures may never result in inhuman or degrading treatment of persons deprived of their liberty.
On 20 March 2020, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has issued a statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is an additional justification to focus attention and evaluate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on prison population in Europe.
The Parliamentary Assembly should prepare a report examining the legal basis of any restrictive measures taken towards persons deprived of their liberty to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and to what extent they are necessary, proportionate, respectful of human dignity and restricted in time.
Additionally, the Assembly should consider what type of special measures are required to meet the specific needs of detained persons with particular regard to vulnerable groups and/or at-risk groups.
Moreover, the Assembly should pay attention to the restrictions on contact with the outside world and how this component should be compensated. Likewise, it should consider the issue of reinforcing staff availability, as well as the professional support, health and safety protection and professional training that prison staff should receive.